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1.  Dietary animal and plant protein intakes and their associations with obesity and cardio-metabolic indicators in European adolescents: the HELENA cross-sectional study 
Nutrition Journal  2015;14:10.
Background
Previous studies suggest that dietary protein might play a beneficial role in combating obesity and its related chronic diseases. Total, animal and plant protein intakes and their associations with anthropometry and serum biomarkers in European adolescents using one standardised methodology across European countries are not well documented.
Objectives
To evaluate total, animal and plant protein intakes in European adolescents stratified by gender and age, and to investigate their associations with cardio-metabolic indicators (anthropometry and biomarkers).
Methods
The current analysis included 1804 randomly selected adolescents participating in the HELENA study (conducted in 2006–2007) aged 12.5-17.5 y (47% males) who completed two non-consecutive computerised 24-h dietary recalls. Associations between animal and plant protein intakes, and anthropometry and serum biomarkers were examined with General linear Model multivariate analysis.
Results
Average total protein intake exceeded the recommendations of World Health Organization and European Food Safety Authority. Mean total protein intake was 96 g/d (59% derived from animal protein). Total, animal and plant protein intakes (g/d) were significantly lower in females than in males and total and plant protein intakes were lower in younger participants (12.5-14.9 y). Protein intake was significantly lower in underweight subjects and higher in obese ones; the direction of the relationship was reversed after adjustments for body weight (g/(kg.d)). The inverse association of plant protein intakes was stronger with BMI z-score and body fat percentage (BF%) compared to animal protein intakes. Additionally, BMI and BF% were positively associated with energy percentage of animal protein.
Conclusions
This sample of European adolescents appeared to have adequate total protein intake. Our findings suggest that plant protein intakes may play a role in preventing obesity among European adolescents. Further longitudinal studies are needed to investigate the potential beneficial effects observed in this study in the prevention of obesity and related chronic diseases.
doi:10.1186/1475-2891-14-10
PMCID: PMC4334414  PMID: 25609179
Protein intake; Adolescence; Body composition; Biomarkers; HELENA study
2.  Assessing the validity of the Global Activity Limitation Indicator in fourteen European countries 
Background
The Global Activity Limitation Indicator (GALI), the measure underlying the European indicator Healthy Life Years (HLY), is widely used to compare population health across countries. However, the comparability of the item has been questioned. This study aims to further validate the GALI in the adult European population.
Methods
Data from the European Health Interview Survey (EHIS), covering 14 European countries and 152,787 individuals, were used to explore how the GALI was associated with other measures of disability and whether the GALI was consistent or reflected different disability situations in different countries.
Results
When considering each country separately or all combined, we found that the GALI was significantly associated with measures of activities of daily living, instrumental activity of daily living, and functional limitations (P < 0.001 in all cases). Associations were largest for activity of daily living and lowest though still high for functional limitations. For each measure, the magnitude of the association was similar across most countries. Overall, however, the GALI differed significantly between countries in terms of how it reflected each of the three disability measures (P < 0.001 in all cases). We suspect cross-country differences in the results may be due to variations in: the implementation of the EHIS, the perception of functioning and limitations, and the understanding of the GALI question.
Conclusion
The study both confirms the relevance of this indicator to measure general activity limitations in the European population and the need for caution when comparing the level of the GALI from one country to another.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2288-15-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-15-1
PMCID: PMC4298058  PMID: 25555466
Global activity limitation indicator; Health expectancy; Disability-free life expectancy; Healthy life years; Disability; Functioning; Measurement
3.  Quantifying burden of disease to support public health policy in Belgium: opportunities and constraints 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(1):1196.
Background
To support public health policy, information on the burden of disease is essential. In recent years, the Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY) has emerged as the most important summary measure of public health. DALYs quantify the number of healthy life years lost due to morbidity and mortality, and thereby facilitate the comparison of the relative impact of diseases and risk factors and the monitoring of public health over time.
Discussion
Evidence on the disease burden in Belgium, expressed as DALYs, is available from international and national efforts. Non-communicable diseases and injuries dominate the overall disease burden, while dietary risks, tobacco smoking, and high body-mass index are the major risk factors for ill health. Notwithstanding these efforts, if DALYs were to be used for guiding health policy, a more systematic approach is required. By integrating DALYs in the current data generating systems, comparable estimates, rooted in recent local data, can be produced. This might however be hampered by several restrictions, such as limited harmonization, timeliness, inclusiveness and accessibility of current databases.
Summary
Routine quantification of disease burden in terms of DALYs would provide a significant added value to evidence-based public health policy in Belgium, although some hurdles need to be cleared.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1196
PMCID: PMC4246467  PMID: 25416547
Belgium; Disease burden; Disability-adjusted life years; Health policy
4.  Protocol of the PSYCHOTSH study: association between neonatal thyroid stimulating hormone concentration and intellectual, psychomotor and psychosocial development at 4–5 year of age: a retrospective cohort study 
Archives of Public Health  2014;72(1):27.
Background
Several European countries, including Belgium, still suffer from mild iodine deficiency. Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) concentration in whole blood measured at birth has been proposed as an indicator of maternal iodine status during the last trimester of pregnancy. It has been shown that mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy may affect the neurodevelopment of the offspring. In several studies, elevated TSH levels at birth were associated with suboptimal cognitive and psychomotor outcomes among young children. This paper describes the protocol of the PSYCHOTSH study aiming to assess the association between neonatal TSH levels and intellectual, psychomotor and psychosocial development of 4–5 year old children. The results could lead to a reassessment of the recommended cut-off levels of 5 > mU/L used for monitoring iodine status of the population.
Methods
In total, 380 Belgian 4–5 year old preschool children from Brussels and Wallonia with a neonatal blood spot TSH concentration between 0 and 15 mU/L are included in the study. For each sex and TSH-interval (0–1, 1–2, 2–3, 3–4, 4–5, 5–6, 6–7, 7–8, 8–9 and 9–15 mU/L), 19 newborns were randomly selected from all newborns screened by the neonatal screening centre in Brussels in 2008–2009. Infants with congenital hypothyroidism, low birth weight and prematurity were excluded from the study. Neonatal TSH concentration was measured by the Autodelphia method in dried blood spots, collected by heel stick on filter paper 3 to 5 days after birth. Cognitive abilities and psychomotor development are assessed using the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence - third edition - and the Charlop-Atwell Scale of Motor coordination. Psychosocial development is measured using the Child Behaviour Check List for age 1½ to 5 years old. In addition, several socioeconomic, parental and child confounding factors are assessed.
Conclusions
This study aims to clarify the effect of mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy on the neurodevelopment of the offspring. Therefore, the results may have important implications for future public health recommendations, policies and practices in food supplementation. In addition, the results may have implications for the use of neonatal TSH screening results for monitoring the population iodine status and may lead to the definition of new TSH cut-offs for determination of the severity of iodine status and for practical use in data reporting by neonatal screening centres.
doi:10.1186/2049-3258-72-27
PMCID: PMC4150557  PMID: 25180082
Iodine deficiency; Thyroid stimulating hormone; Child development; Cognitive development; Psychomotor development; Psychosocial development
5.  Genetic similarities between tobacco use disorder and related comorbidities: an exploratory study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:85.
Background
Tobacco use disorder (TUD), defined as the use of tobacco to the detriment of a person’s health or social functioning, is associated with various disorders. We hypothesized that mutual variation in genes may partly explain this link. The aims of this study were to make a non-exhaustive inventory of the disorders using (partially) the same genetic pathways as TUD, and to describe the genetic similarities between TUD and the selected disorders.
Methods
We developed a 3 stage approach: (i) selection of genes influencing TUD using Gene2Mesh and Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA), (ii) selection of disorders associated with the selected genes using IPA and (iii) genetic similarities between disorders associated with TUD using Jaccard distance and cluster analyses.
Results
Fourteen disorders and thirty-two genes met our inclusion criteria. The Jaccard distance between pairs of disorders ranged from 0.00 (e.g. oesophageal cancer and malignant hypertension) to 0.45 (e.g. bladder cancer and addiction). A lower number in the Jaccard distance indicates a higher similarity between the two disorders. Two main clusters of genetically similar disorders were observed, one including coexisting disorders (e.g. addiction and alcoholism) and the other one with the side-effects of smoking (e.g. gastric cancer and malignant hypertension).
Conclusions
This exploratory study partly explains the potential genetic components linking TUD to other disorders. Two principle clusters of disorders were observed (i) coexisting disorders of TUD and (ii) side-effects of TUD disorders. A further deepening of this observation in a real life study should allow strengthening this hypothesis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-15-85
PMCID: PMC4119471  PMID: 25060307
Cardiovascular disorders; Comorbidity; Genetics; Network; Psychiatric disorders; Public Health Genomics; Tobacco use disorder; Tobacco smoking
6.  The effect of smoking on the duration of life with and without disability, Belgium 1997–2011 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:723.
Background
Smoking is the single most important health threat yet there is no consistency as to whether non-smokers experience a compression of years lived with disability compared to (ex-)smokers. The objectives of the manuscript are (1) to assess the effect of smoking on the average years lived without disability (Disability Free Life Expectancy (DFLE)) and with disability (Disability Life Expectancy (DLE)) and (2) to estimate the extent to which these effects are due to better survival or reduced disability in never smokers.
Methods
Data on disability and mortality were provided by the Belgian Health Interview Survey 1997 and 2001 and a 10 years mortality follow-up of the survey participants. Disability was defined as difficulties in activities of daily living (ADL), in mobility, in continence or in sensory (vision, hearing) functions. Poisson and multinomial logistic regression models were fitted to estimate the probabilities of death and the prevalence of disability by age, gender and smoking status adjusted for socioeconomic position. The Sullivan method was used to estimate DFLE and DLE at age 30. The contribution of mortality and of disability to smoking related differences in DFLE and DLE was assessed using decomposition methods.
Results
Compared to never smokers, ex-smokers have a shorter life expectancy (LE) and DFLE but the number of years lived with disability is somewhat larger. For both sexes, the higher disability prevalence is the main contributing factor to the difference in DFLE and DLE. Smokers have a shorter LE, DFLE and DLE compared to never smokers. Both higher mortality and higher disability prevalence contribute to the difference in DFLE, but mortality is more important among males. Although both male and female smokers experience higher disability prevalence, their higher mortality outweighs their disability disadvantage resulting in a shorter DLE.
Conclusion
Smoking kills and shortens both life without and life with disability. Smoking related disability can however not be ignored, given its contribution to the excess years with disability especially in younger age groups.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-723
PMCID: PMC4223416  PMID: 25026981
Disability free life expectancy; Disability life expectancy; Life expectancy; Health expectancy; Disability; Mortality; Smoking; Decomposition; Belgium
7.  Using mortality follow-up of surveys to estimate social inequalities in healthy life years 
Background
The estimation of healthy life years (HLY) by socio-economic status (SES) requires two types of data: the prevalence of activity limitation by SES generally extracted from surveys and mortality rates by SES generally derived from a linkage between the SES information in population databases (census, register) and mortality records. In some situations, no population-wide databases are available to produce mortality rates by SES, and therefore some alternatives must be explored. This paper assesses the validity of calculating HLY by SES using mortality rates derived from a linkage between surveys and mortality records.
Methods
Two surveys were chosen to explore the validity of the proposed approach: The Belgian Health Interview Survey (HIS) and the Belgian Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC). The mortality follow-up of these surveys were used to calculate HLY by educational level at age 25. These HLY were compared with HLY estimates calculated using the mortality follow-up of the 2001 census. The validity of this approach was evaluated against two criteria. First, the HLY calculated using the census and those calculated using the surveys must not be significantly different. Second, survey-based HLY must show significant social inequalities since such inequalities have been consistently reported with census-based HLY.
Results
Both criteria were met. First, for each educational category, no statistically significant difference was found when comparing census-based and survey-based HLY estimates. For instance, men in the lowest educational category have shown a HLY of 34 years according to the HIS, and while this figure was 35.5 years according to the census, this difference was not statistically significant. Second, the survey-based HLY have shown a significant social gradient. For instance, men in the highest educational category are expected to live 9.5 more HLY than their counterparts in the lowest educational category based on the HIS estimates, compared with 7.3 HLY based on the census estimates.
Conclusions
This article suggests that using the mortality follow-up of a nationally representative cross-sectional survey is a valid approach to monitor social inequalities in HLY in the absence of population-wide data.
doi:10.1186/1478-7954-12-13
PMCID: PMC4030465  PMID: 24855457
Healthy life years; Socioeconomic status; Surveys; Mortality follow-up; Monitoring
8.  Communicating Genetics and Smoking Through Social Media: Are We There Yet? 
Background
Social media is a recent source of health information that could disseminate new scientific research, such as the genetics of smoking.
Objective
The objectives were (1) to evaluate the availability of genetic information about smoking on different social media platforms (ie, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter) and (2) to assess the type and the content of the information displayed on the social media as well as the profile of people publishing this information.
Methods
We screened posts on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter with the terms “smoking” and “genetic” at two time points (September 18, 2012, and May 7, 2013). The first 100 posts were reviewed for each media for the time points. Google was searched during Time 2 as an indicator of available information on the Web and the other social media that discussed genetics and smoking. The source of information, the country of the publisher, characteristics of the posts, and content of the posts were extracted.
Results
On YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, 31, 0, and 84 posts, respectively, were included. Posts were mostly based on smoking-related diseases, referred to scientific publications, and were largely from the United States. From the Google search, most results were scientific databases. Six scientific publications referred to within the Google search were also retrieved on either YouTube or Twitter.
Conclusions
Despite the importance of public understanding of smoking and genetics, and the high use of social media, little information on this topic is actually present on social media. Therefore, there is a need to monitor the information that is there and to evaluate the population’s understanding of the information related to genetics and smoking that is displayed on social media.
doi:10.2196/jmir.2653
PMCID: PMC3785980  PMID: 24018012
genetics; Internet; public health genomics; smoking; social media; Web 2.0
9.  Mind the gap—reaching the European target of a 2-year increase in healthy life years in the next decade 
Background: The European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing seeks an increase of two healthy life years (HLY) at birth in the EU27 for the next 10 years. We assess the feasibility of doing so between 2010 and 2020 and the differential impact among countries by applying different scenarios to current trends in HLY. Methods: Data comprised HLY and life expectancy (LE) at birth 2004–09 from Eurostat. We estimated HLY in 2010 in each country by multiplying the Eurostat projections of LE in 2010 by the ratio HLY/LE obtained either from country and sex-specific linear regression models of HLY/LE on year (seven countries retaining same HLY question) or extrapolating the average of HLY/LE in 2008 and 2009 to 2010 (20 countries and EU27). The first scenario continued these trends with three other scenarios exploring different HLY gap reductions between 2010 and 2020. Results: The estimated gap in HLY in 2010 was 17.5 years (men) and 18.9 years (women). Assuming current trends continue, EU27 HLY increased by 1.4 years (men) and 0.9 years (women), below the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing target, with the HLY gap between countries increasing to 18.3 years (men) and 19.5 years (women). To eliminate the HLY gap in 20 years, the EU27 must gain 4.4 HLY (men) and 4.8 HLY (women) in the next decade, which, for some countries, is substantially more than what the current trends suggest. Conclusion: Global targets for HLY move attention from inter-country differences and, alongside the current economic crisis, may contribute to increase health inequalities.
doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckt030
PMCID: PMC3784798  PMID: 23487547
10.  Decomposing Kenyan socio-economic inequalities in skilled birth attendance and measles immunization 
Introduction
Skilled birth attendance (SBA) and measles immunization reflect two aspects of a health system. In Kenya, their national coverage gaps are substantial but could be largely improved if the total population had the same coverage as the wealthiest quintile. A decomposition analysis allows identifying the factors that influence these wealth-related inequalities in order to develop appropriate policy responses. The main objective of the study was to decompose wealth-related inequalities in SBA and measles immunization into their contributing factors.
Methods
Data from the Kenyan Demographic and Health Survey 2008/09 were used. The study investigated the effects of socio-economic determinants on [1] coverage and [2] wealth-related inequalities of SBA utilization and measles immunization. Techniques used were multivariate logistic regression and decomposition of the concentration index (C).
Results
SBA utilization and measles immunization coverage differed according to household wealth, parent’s education, skilled antenatal care visits, birth order and father’s occupation. SBA utilization further differed across provinces and ethnic groups. The overall C for SBA was 0.14 and was mostly explained by wealth (40%), parent’s education (28%), antenatal care (9%), and province (6%). The overall C for measles immunization was 0.08 and was mostly explained by wealth (60%), birth order (33%), and parent’s education (28%). Rural residence (−19%) reduced this inequality.
Conclusion
Both health care indicators require a broad strengthening of health systems with a special focus on disadvantaged sub-groups.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-12-3
PMCID: PMC3547715  PMID: 23294938
Kenya; Skilled birth attendance; Measles immunization; Socio-economic inequalities; Concentration index; Decomposition
11.  Neonatal Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone Concentrations in Belgium: A Useful Indicator for Detecting Mild Iodine Deficiency? 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47770.
It has been proposed that neonatal thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) concentrations are a good indicator of iodine deficiency in the population. A frequency of neonatal TSH concentrations above 5 mU/L below 3% has been proposed as the threshold indicating iodine sufficiency. The objective of the present study was to evaluate feasibility and usefulness of nation-wide neonatal TSH concentration screening results to assess iodine status in Belgium. All newborns born in Belgium during the period 2009–2011 (n = 377713) were included in the study, except those suffering from congenital hypothyroidism and premature neonates. The frequency of neonatal TSH concentrations above 5 mU/L from 2009 to 2011 in Belgium fluctuated between 2.6 and 3.3% in the centres using the same TSH assay. There was a significant inverse association between neonatal TSH level and birth weight. The longer the duration between birth and screening, the lower the TSH level. Neonatal TSH levels were significantly lower in winter than in spring or autumn and significantly lower in spring and summer than in autumn while significantly higher in spring compared to summer. In conclusion, despite that pregnant women in Belgium are mildly iodine deficient, the frequency of neonatal TSH concentrations above 5 mU/L was very low, suggesting that the neonatal TSH threshold proposed for detecting iodine deficiency needs to be re-evaluated. Although neonatal TSH is useful to detect severe iodine deficiency, it should not be recommended presently for the evaluation of iodine status in mildly iodine deficient regions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047770
PMCID: PMC3480419  PMID: 23112844
12.  High Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency in Pregnant Women: A National Cross-Sectional Survey 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43868.
An increasing number of studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is associated with multiple adverse health outcomes in mothers, neonates and children. There are no representative country data available on vitamin D status of pregnant women in Europe. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among Belgian pregnant women and to assess the determinants of vitamin D status in the first and third trimester of pregnancy. The women were selected via a multi-stage proportionate-to-size sampling design. Blood samples were collected and a questionnaire was completed face-to-face. 55 obstetric clinics were randomly selected and 1311 pregnant women participated in the study. The median serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25-(OH)D] concentration was significantly lower in the first trimester (20.4 ng/ml) than in third trimester (22.7 ng/ml). Of all women, 74.1% (95%CI = 71.8–76.5%) were vitamin D insufficient (25-(OH)D <30 ng/ml), 44.6% (95%CI = 41.9–47.3%) were vitamin D deficient (25-(OH)D <20 ng/ml), while 12.1% (95%CI = 10.3–13.8%) were severely vitamin D deficient (25-(OH)D <10 ng/ml). Of all women included, 62.0% reported taking vitamin D-containing multivitamins, of which only 24.2% started taking those before pregnancy. The risk of vitamin D deficiency (25-(OH)D <20 ng/ml) was significantly higher for less educated women and women who reported not going on holidays to sunny climates. The risk of severe vitamin D deficiency (25-(OH)D <10 ng/ml) decreased for women who reported alcohol consumption during pregnancy, decreased with more frequent use of sunscreen lotion and increased for smokers and women who reported preference for shadow. In conclusion, vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent among pregnant women in Belgium and this raises concerns about the health consequences for the mother and the offspring. A targeted screening strategy to detect and treat women at high risk of severe vitamin D deficiency is needed in Belgium and in Europe.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043868
PMCID: PMC3427250  PMID: 22937114
13.  Impact of Genetic Notification on Smoking Cessation: Systematic Review and Pooled-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40230.
Objectives
This study aimed to evaluate the impact of genetic notification of smoking-related disease risk on smoking cessation in the general population. Secondary objectives were to assess the impact of genetic notification on intention-to-quit smoking and on emotional outcomes as well as the understanding and the recall of this notification.
Methods
A systematic review of articles from inception to August 2011 without language restriction was realized using PubMed, Embase, Scopus, Web of Science, PsycINFO and Toxnet. Other publications were identified using hand search. The pooled-analysis included only randomized trials. Comparison groups were (i) high and low genetic risk versus control, and (ii) high versus low genetic risk. For the pooled-analysis random effect models were applied and sensitivity analyses were conducted.
Results
Eight papers from seven different studies met the inclusion criteria of the review. High genetic risk notification was associated with short-term increased depression and anxiety. Four randomized studies were included in the pooled-analysis, which revealed a significant impact of genetic notification on smoking cessation in comparison to controls (clinical risk notification or no intervention) in short term follow-up less than 6 months (RR = 1.55, 95% CI 1.09–2.21).
Conclusions
In short term follow-up, genetic notification increased smoking cessation in comparison to control interventions. However, there is no evidence of long term effect (up to 12 month) on smoking cessation. Further research is needed to assess more in depth how genetic notification of smoking-related disease could contribute to smoking cessation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040230
PMCID: PMC3394798  PMID: 22808123
14.  Gender differences in healthy life years within the EU: an exploration of the “health–survival” paradox 
Objectives
To evaluated the female–male health–survival paradox by estimating the contribution of women’s mortality advantage versus women’s disability disadvantage.
Methods
Disability prevalence was measured from the 2006 Survey on Income and Living Conditions in 25 European countries. Disability prevalence was applied to life tables to estimate healthy life years (HLY) at age 15. Gender differences in HLY were split into two parts: that due to gender inequality in mortality and that due to gender inequality in disability. The relationship between women’s mortality advantage or disability disadvantage and the level of population health between countries was analysed using random-effects meta-regression.
Results
Women’s mortality advantage contributes to more HLY in women; women’s higher prevalence of disability reduces the difference in HLY. In populations with high life expectancy women’s advantage in HLY was small or even a men’s advantage was found. In populations with lower life expectancy, the hardship among men is already evident at young ages.
Conclusions
The results suggest that the health–survival paradox is a function of the level of population health, dependent on modifiable factors.
doi:10.1007/s00038-012-0361-1
PMCID: PMC3557379  PMID: 22618297
Europe; Gender; Health expectancy; Health inequality; Healthy life years; Health–survival paradox
15.  Public health in the genomic era: will Public Health Genomics contribute to major changes in the prevention of common diseases? 
The completion of the Human Genome Project triggered a whole new field of genomic research which is likely to lead to new opportunities for the promotion of population health. As a result, the distinction between genetic and environmental diseases has faded. Presently, genomics and knowledge deriving from systems biology, epigenomics, integrative genomics or genome-environmental interactions give a better insight on the pathophysiology of common diseases. However, it is barely used in the prevention and management of diseases. Together with the boost in the amount of genetic association studies, this demands for appropriate public health actions. The field of Public Health Genomics analyses how genome-based knowledge and technologies can responsibly and effectively be integrated into health services and public policy for the benefit of population health. Environmental exposures interact with the genome to produce health information which may help explain inter-individual differences in health, or disease risk. However today, prospects for concrete applications remain distant. In addition, this information has not been translated into health practice yet. Therefore, evidence-based recommendations are few. The lack of population-based research hampers the evaluation of the impact of genomic applications. Public Health Genomics also evaluates the benefits and risks on a larger scale, including normative, legal, economic and social issues. These new developments are likely to affect all domains of public health and require rethinking the role of genomics in every condition of public health interest. This article aims at providing an introduction to the field of and the ideas behind Public Health Genomics.
doi:10.1186/0778-7367-69-8
PMCID: PMC3436652  PMID: 22958637
Epidemiology; Genomics; Epigenomics; Prevention; Public Health; Public Health Genomics; Translational Research; Policymaking; Personalised Healthcare
16.  Repeated 24-hour recalls versus dietary records for estimating nutrient intakes in a national food consumption survey  
Food & Nutrition Research  2011;55:10.3402/fnr.v55i0.7307.
Background
The methodology used in the first Belgian food consumption survey followed to a large extent the instructions of the European Food Consumption (EFCOSUM) reports, where repeated 24-hour recalls (24HR) using EPIC-SOFT were recommended.
Objectives
To evaluate the relative validity of two non-consecutive 24HR using EPIC-SOFT by comparison with 5-day estimated dietary records (EDR). To assess misreporting in energy for both methods by comparing energy intake with energy expenditure from accelerometery in a subsample.
Design
A total of 175 subjects (aged 15 and over) were recruited to participate in the study. Repeated 24HR were performed with an interval of 2–8 weeks. After completion of the second interview, subjects were instructed to keep an EDR. Dietary intakes were adjusted for within-person variability to reflect usual intakes. A Student's t-test was calculated to assess differences between both methods. Spearman and Kappa correlation coefficients were used to investigate agreement.
Results
In total, 127 subjects completed the required repeated 24HR, as well as the five record days. From 76 participants, accelerometer data were available. In both methods, about 35% of participants had ratios of Energy Intake/Total Energy Expenditure (EI/TEE) above or below 95% confidence intervals for EI/TEE, suggesting misreporting of energy. Significant differences between the two dietary intake methods were found for total energy, total fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, alcohol, vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin and iron. In general, intakes from 24HR were higher compared to EDR. Correlation coefficients for all nutrients ranged from 0.16 for thiamine to 0.70 for water.
Conclusions
The results from this study show that in the context of nutritional surveillance, duplicate 24HR can be used to asses intakes of protein, carbohydrates, starch, sugar, water, potassium and calcium.
doi:10.3402/fnr.v55i0.7307
PMCID: PMC3215303  PMID: 22084625
estimated dietary record; dietary assessment; accelerometry; relative validity
17.  Dietary sources of energy and macronutrient intakes among Flemish preschoolers 
This study aims to identify major food sources of energy and macronutrients among Flemish preschoolers as a basis for evaluating dietary guidelines. Three-day estimated diet records were collected from a representative sample of 696 Flemish preschoolers (2.5-6.5 years old; participation response rate: 50%). For 11 dietary constituents, the contribution of 57 food groups was computed by summing the amount provided by the food group for all individuals divided by the total intake of the respective nutrient for all individuals. Bread (12%), sweet snacks (12%), milk (6%), flavoured milk drinks (9%), and meat products (6%) were the top five energy contributors. Sweet snacks were among the top contributors to energy, total fat, all fatty acids, cholesterol, and complex and simple carbohydrates. Fruit juices and flavoured milk drinks are the main contributors to simple carbohydrates (respectively 14% and 18%). All principal food groups like water, bread and cereals, vegetables, fruit, milk and spreadable fats were under-consumed by more than 30% of the population, while the food groups that were over-consumed consisted only of low nutritious and high energy dense foods (sweet snacks, sugared drinks, fried potatoes, sauces and sweet spreads). From the major food sources and gaps in nutrient and food intakes, some recommendations to pursue the nutritional goals could be drawn: the intake of sweet snacks and sugar-rich drinks (incl. fruit juices) should be discouraged, while consumption of fruits, vegetables, water, bread and margarine on bread should be encouraged.
doi:10.1186/0778-7367-69-5
PMCID: PMC3436670  PMID: 22958525
18.  Dietary sources of animal and plant protein intake among Flemish preschool children and the association with socio-economic and lifestyle-related factors 
Nutrition Journal  2011;10:97.
Background
The aims of this study were to assess the intake of animal, plant and food group-specific protein, and to investigate their associations with socio-economic and lifestyle-related factors in Flemish preschoolers.
Methods
Three-day estimated dietary records were collected from 661 preschoolers aged 2.5-6.5 y (338 boys and 323 girls). Multiple linear regression analysis was used to investigate the association between animal, plant, and food group-specific protein intake and socio-economic and lifestyle factors.
Results
Animal proteins (mean 38 g/d) were the main source of total protein (mean 56 g/d), while mean plant protein intake amounted to 18 g/d. The group of meat, poultry, fish and eggs was the main contributor (51%) to animal protein intake, followed by milk and milk products (35%). Bread and cereals (41%) contributed most to the plant protein intake, followed by low-nutritious, energy-dense foods (21%). With higher educated fathers and mothers as reference, respectively, preschoolers with lower secondary and secondary paternal education had lower animal, dairy-, and meat-derived protein intakes, and those with lower secondary and secondary maternal education consumed less plant, and bread and cereal-derived proteins. Compared to children with high physical activity levels, preschoolers with low and moderate physical activity had lower animal and plant protein intakes. Significantly higher potatoes and grains-, and fish- derived proteins were reported for children of smoking mothers and fathers, respectively, compared to those of non-smoking mothers and fathers.
Conclusions
The total protein intake of Flemish preschoolers was sufficient according to the recommendations of the Belgian Superior Health Council. Parental level of education and smoking status might play a role in the sources of children's dietary proteins.
doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-97
PMCID: PMC3191475  PMID: 21943312
plant protein; animal protein; preschool children; socio-economic status; lifestyle-related factors; Flanders
19.  Dietary Sources of Fiber Intake and Its Association with Socio-Economic Factors among Flemish Preschool Children 
The objectives were to assess total dietary fiber intake, identify the major sources of dietary fiber, and examine its association with socio-economic factors among Flemish preschoolers. Three-day estimated dietary records were collected from a representative sample of preschoolers 2.5–6.5 years old (n = 661; 338 boys, 323 girls). The mean dietary fiber intake (13.4 g/d) was lower than the intake level recommended by the Belgian Superior Health Council (70% boys and 81% girls below the guidelines). The most important contributor was the group of bread and cereals (29.5%), followed by fruits (17.8%), potatoes and grains (16.0%), energy-dense, low-nutritious foods (12.4%), and vegetables (11.8%). Multiple linear regression analyses showed that total fiber intake was associated with maternal education and parents’ employment. Overall, fiber intakes from high-nutritious foods (vegetables and fruits) were higher in preschoolers of higher educated mothers and those with one or both parents being employed. In conclusion, the majority of the preschoolers had dietary fiber intakes below the recommended level. Hence, dietary fiber should be promoted among parents of preschoolers and low socio-economic status families should be addressed in particular.
doi:10.3390/ijms12031836
PMCID: PMC3111636  PMID: 21673925
dietary fiber intake; preschool children; socio-economic status; Belgium
20.  Fluoride Intake through Consumption of Tap Water and Bottled Water in Belgium 
There is a tendency to align higher levels of fluoride in natural mineral water with the existing higher levels in tap water. Treatment of natural mineral waters could harm the preservation of their natural character. In this study fluoride intake through bottled and tap water consumption in the Belgian adult population was assessed, taking into account regional differences. A deterministic approach was used whereby consumption quantities of tap water and different brands of bottled water were linked with their respective fluoride concentrations. Data from the national food consumption survey (2004) were used and the Nusser methodology was applied to obtain usual intake estimates.
Mean intake of fluoride through total water consumption in Flanders was 1.4±0.7 mg/day (97.5th percentile: 3.1 mg/day), while in the Walloon region it was on average 0.9±0.6 mg/day (97.5th percentile: 2.4 mg/day). The probability of exceeding the UL of 7 mg per day via a normal diet was estimated to be low. Consequently, there is no need to revise the existing norms, but higher fluoride concentrations should be more clearly indicated on the labels. Reliable data about total dietary fluoride intake in children, including intake of fluoride via tooth paste and food supplements, are needed.
doi:10.3390/ijerph6051676
PMCID: PMC2697936  PMID: 19543414
fluoride; exposure assessment; food consumption survey; Belgium
21.  Food Intakes by Preschool Children in Flanders Compared with Dietary Guidelines 
The objective of this study was to compare food group intakes among preschool children with food-based dietary guidelines (FBDG) and to determine the proportion of children meeting these guidelines. Food consumption of preschool children (2.5–6.5 years) living in Flanders (Belgium) were assessed in a cross-sectional study, using proxy reported 3d estimated dietary records (EDR) (n 696). Statistical modelling was used to account for within-individual variation in the 3d EDR. Mean daily intakes of most food groups (beverages, vegetables, fruit and milk) were below the minimum recommendations. Only ‘grains and potatoes’ and ‘meat products’ were in line with the recommendations and ‘bread and cereals’ showed borderline intakes. Mean intakes of energy-dense and low-nutritious foods, which are discouraged within a healthy diet (like snacks and sugared drinks), were high. Furthermore, the percentage of children complying with the different food-based dietary guidelines was for most food groups extremely low (ranging from approximately 4% for fluid and vegetable intakes up to 99% for potato intakes). Boys had in general higher mean intakes of the recommended food groups. In conclusion, preschool children in Flanders follow eating patterns that do not meet Flemish FBDG. Although the impact of these eating habits on preschooler’s current and future health should be further investigated, it is clear that nutrition education and intervention are needed among preschool children and their parents in Flanders.
doi:10.3390/ijerph5040243
PMCID: PMC2672311  PMID: 19190355
Food intake; Recommendations; Preschool; Children; Belgium

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