#ISBNPA2019, Keynote, Bruce Y. Lee: How systems approaches can transform nutrition and physical activity.

Presented at #ISBNPA2019, June 6

Chair: Amy Yaroch Nutrition and physical activity are not single-cause, single effect issues. There isn’t a single magical diet, magical food item, magical exercise device, magical exercise program, or magical potion that will solve the current physical inactivity, non-communicable disease, and obesity epidemics. Instead, these epidemics are systems issues and are the result of broken biological, behavioral, social, environmental, and economic systems that all affect each other. For example, a person’s likelihood of participating in physical activity may depend on how much sleep that person gets, what competing priorities there may be, what that person’s work or school schedule is like, whether that person’s peers convince him or her to get physical activity, whether there are available physical education classes or programs, whether the local areas are safe and walkable and have parks, recreation centers, and playing fields, and whether that person can afford sports programs and equipment. A person’s food choice may depend on what types of food are available around them, how much time they have, how much the food costs and what they can afford, and what their peers are eating. Moreover, these are systems issues. Solving physical inactivity and nutrition problems are crucial as this can positively affect many different systems, having far-reaching mental and physical health, social, economics, and other benefits. Unaided, humans may have a hard time understanding these complex systems. Therefore, in order to better understand and develop and implement the right solutions, there is a need for more systems approaches. Systems approaches include new methods such as systems mapping and computational modeling that also leverage and utilize new developments such as mobile technologies, Big Data, and artificial intelligence. We will walk through examples of such systems approaches and methods. Systems approaches are not only the future of nutrition and physical activity but also should be the present.