Celebrating our young leaders
Christina Black, Jean-Claude Moubarac, Sarah Kehoe, Isabela Sattamini:
four young professional leaders within the Association, our website and WN
The average age of Association members is now about 10 years younger than it was a couple of years ago, and as you will have noticed from the notices for newly profiled members, we are edging towards gender parity. Perhaps even more valuable is the number of active members who are – well, this ancient writer was going to say, very young. Let's say really young.
On the home page link with this story we feature Association membership secretary Fabio Gomes and general secretary Sabrina Ionata, together with our monthly columnist Reggie Annan. Reggie had a story to tell about this month's column. By mistake his email attachment that arrived some days before this story here is being written, was of a column we had already published. It turned out that he had asked a friend to take his pen drive from Kumasi to Accra to send this month's column, and the friend sent the wrong column.... and had lost the pen-drive Opa, as Brazilians say. Bad news! Had Reggie kept a copy? Don't ask! Then Reggie had an idea, asked the people in the internet cafe to check, and yes, the pen-drive had not been taken out of the USB port. Yeah, we all do this sometimes. So wonderful to relate, we got the May column, and first-class it is too. This also invents a new excuse for failure to deliver. 'The internet café ate my pen-drive'. Ho ho.
Above we feature four more of of our young leaders. Christina Black from the MRC unit at Southampton University, where she is a college of Association president Barrie Margetts, is acting as assistant to the treasurer. Jean-Claude Moubarac from the school of public health at the University of São Paulo, where he works with Council member Carlos Monteiro, is author of this February's commentary on sexing up ultra-processed products, which gives us an excuse to show, yet again, Coke's Beach Girl. No, she is not one of our young leaders.
What is this 'classic' Coke™ advertisement saying? What does 'yes' mean?
Yes to what? Why the angle of the girl's head, and the style of her smile?
Sarah Kehoe, also a colleague of Barrie Margetts at Southampton University, works with Sabrina Ionata on our relatively new and expanding social media department. And Isabela Sattamini, assistant to Fabio Gomes, masterminds each month's member's profiles, and also with Fabio has written our guides to Rio in March, April and this month. Christina, Jean-Claude, Sarah and Isabela have also, like Fabio, Sabrina and Reggie, written this month in WN about their vision for public health and for nutrition.
WN and website contributors
The two most recent issues of the website with WN in April and May 2012, include more than 30 contributors from all main continents. As well as those mentioned above, these include Marion Nestle, Philip James, Barrie Margetts, Catherine Geissler, Harriet Kuhnlein, Claudio Schuftan, Geoffrey Cannon, Agneta Yngve, Barry Popkin, Ricardo Uauy, Urban Jonsson, Geof Rayner, Tim Lang, Roger Shrimpton, Elisabetta Recine, Roger Hughes, Arun Gupta, Patti Rundall, Flavio Valente, Radha Holla, Walter Willett, Renato Maluf, Shiriki Kumanyika, Boyd Swinburn, Nahla Hwalla, Carlos Monteiro, Inês Rugani, and the team responsible for our website's social media section.
The total number of contributors to WN so far, from May 2010 to May 2012 is 85: 11 from Africa, 21 from Asia, 4 from Oceania, 8 from Latin America, 18 from North America, and 23 from Europe.
Some months ago we were proud to publish a major commentary by Philip James on the circumstances leading up to the UN high-level meeting on prevention and control of chronic diseases. This magisterial contribution, written by one of the world's leaders in nutrition and public health for several decades, was we know read with great attention by key people within the UN system and national governments. As well as analysis, it showed that a substantial amount of movement in our field at top level has been going backwards, as indicated by its title, 'Inglorious paths'.
This month our main commentary is also by Philip James. This time he examines what is perhaps the most critical issue for all of us who, in the words of the motto of our Rio2012 conference, are concerned with moving knowledge to policy to action, in the public interest. The title of this month's commentary is 'Coming to judgement'. One of the issues here, is when is evidence strong enough, to be a basis for public policy recommendations and actions? After 30 and more years as an leader of national and global expert consultations in our field, Philip James is again, concerned that extraordinary pressure are being exerted against us who and committed to the improvement of public health and the protection of public goods. One of the illustrations he uses is shown below here.
Hierarchy of types of evidence relevant to
public policy judgements and actions
Note. A more complete pyramid would insert Metabolic and Physiologic Studies, perhaps below Case Series, and Ecological (or Correlation including Migrant Studies), above Case Series. The inclusion of 'Editorials, Opinions' is obviously problematic – it depends on what evidence these are based on!
It is of a 'pyramid' designed to show a hierarchy of quality of different types of evidence. The best stuff is at the top and these days, most studies of the types shown below the brown 'Cohort Studies' near the top of the pyramid are discarded in current expert consultations. Instead, paramount importance is given to evidence from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) preferably 'double-blinded'.
But RCTs, as Philip James shows, which are essential and vital as tests of the safety of drugs, are almost worthless as assessments of food, nutrition, disease, health and well-being. As a physician who for many years has been engaged with clinical trials, Philip James is in a position to know. So, who are the champions of RCTs? Would it surprise you to know that these include the transnational manufacturers of ultra-processed products, together with those governments that are committed to giving such corporations a free commercial hand? Philip James's commentary is required reading throughout the whole nutrition and public health policy-making community, and this includes us.