June 28 - 29, 2007 Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

Recap of Institute of Medicine Adequacy of Evidence to Develop Physical Activity Guidelines Workshop

Prior to introducing Linda Meyers from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), Dr. Haskell summarized the need to provide the Secretary adequate evidence linking physical activity to health before federal funds could be allocated to produce recommendations and guidelines for physical activity. To research the evidence, HHS requested the IOM, as part of the National Academy of Sciences, produce a report addressing whether there is adequate evidence to proceed. Subsequently, IOM convened a workshop, under the leadership of Dr. Meyers, to address this issue.

Dr. Meyers reiterated the purpose of the workshop was to bring together expert research scientists and physical activity practitioners from academia and government to explore whether there was sufficient scientific evidence for HHS to proceed. The workshop was sponsored by several agencies within HHS and coordinated by two IOM Boards, the Nutrition Board and the Board on Population, Health and Public Health Practice. She stated part of the reason IOM was asked to coordinate the workshop was to provide a neutral venue for discussion since IOM is not a government agency.

The focus throughout the workshop centered around the question, "Is there enough data to move forward?" The workshop itself was set-up to enable presenters and discussants to describe and discuss the nature and strengths of scientific data and areas where additional research is needed. Several discussion sessions were specifically set-up to enable different views and interpretations to be expressed. The summary report of the workshop was organized around the following themes: physical activity and health promotion and disease prevention, physical activity and obesity and weight management, physical activity and risk, and physical activity and special considerations for children and adolescents, pregnant and post-partum women, older persons, and persons with disabilities.

The final report from the workshop is not a conclusion or consensus on physical activity and health but rather an illustration that there is considerable, and some strong, evidence linking physical activity and health. The following remark from the report is supportive of the adequacy of evidence for HHS to move forward:

"Physical activity has become a major public health problem. Physical activity that contributes to good health can be delivered at the community level. The U.S. lacks up-to-date, comprehensive physical activity guidelines for promoting health. Scientific data strongly support numerous health benefits of a physically active lifestyle. Dose response data that were presented suggest that the development of newer, comprehensive guidelines based on new evidence would be feasible."

RADM Royall indicated that quickly after the IOM produced a report from the workshop Secretary Leavitt announced that HHS would move forward to produce Physical Activity Guidelines. From that point on the process has been fast tracked in order to produce the first edition of Guidelines in October, 2008.

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