New Year starts with focus on healthy living

December 18, 2008

Most people know that how we live our lives effects our health so what influences our decisions to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle? Why do health professionals like doctors and counsellors do and say what they do? How can public policy, health services, schools and education, the workplace, the internet, and community in which we live be used to support healthier living? For instance, can exercise help with addiction? How can schools promote healthy living? What could we all do to live better and healthier in 2009? The start of a New Year gives many people an opportunity to change their lifestyle but will they stick with it?

These questions, and many others, will be addressed in Exeter (UK) on Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 January at the UK Society for Behavioural Medicine annual conference.

Hosted by the University of Exeter and Peninsula Medical School the two-day conference will bring together over 100 of the UK's leading experts on behavioural medicine. Featuring high profile work from the UK's National Prevention Research Initiative, the conference focuses on how our behaviour affects our health, and the processes by which those behaviours can be altered to improve our health and prevent illness.

The conference is also about getting evidence into practice, to ensure that science ends up making a positive contribution to improving quality of life and health care for large numbers of people.

Dr Colin Greaves of the Peninsula Medical School, a joint entity of the universities of Exeter and Plymouth, said: "Behavioural medicine is about tackling the root causes of some of the biggest health problems in our society - tackling the low-active lifestyles and weight problems which are causing huge increases in diabetes and heart disease; stopping smoking, excessive drinking and drug use, which cause problems in society as well as health problems. It is also about helping people to manage long-term illnesses once they occur - how can you help people to manage their depression or diabetes better for instance? The aim of behavioural medicine is to bring together theoretical insights from behavioural, social and population health scientists with real-world experience from doctors and nurses and patients and health services researchers. By putting all these experts together, we can start to generate real-world solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the nation's health. At this conference we will be exploring the latest and most groundbreaking research to discover how we can support people of all ages to live and enjoy healthier lives. We are proud to be hosting this major conference in Exeter this year and look forward to welcoming over 100 guests to the city."

The conference will be held at the the University of Exeter and will open with speeches by Professor Sir John Tooke, Dean of the Peninsula Medical School, Professor Martin Eccles, President of UK Society of Behavioural Medicine and Professor Ray Fitzpatrick, Chair of the Scientific Committee of the National Prevention Research Initiative. Over the two days, experts from universities and research institutes from across the UK will share their research on issues related to the prevention and treatment of mental health problems, substance abuse and addiction, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and other lifestyle-related diseases.

Professor Adrian Taylor of the University of Exeter's School of Sport and Health Sciences commented: "It seems fitting to be hosting this conference in January, when we all have good intentions about living a healthier life over the coming year. Many people fail to keep up with their New Year resolutions of giving up smoking, eating more healthily or become more physically active. But why? This conference will give leading experts a chance to share the latest research that explores how individuals, public and private services, and business can make a difference to the health and well-being of UK PLC."

Over the next three years, the University of Exeter is investing £80 million in science. Its investment is focused on five themes, one of which is translational medicine (putting scientific knowledge to work in the real world), personalised healthcare and public health.
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Notes for editors

The National Prevention Research Initiative (NPRI) was originally funded through a partnership of the following organisations: British Heart Foundation; Cancer Research UK; Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Government Health Directorate; Department of Health; Diabetes UK; Economic and Social Research Council; Food Standards Agency; Health & Social Care Research & Development Office for Northern Ireland; Medical Research Council; The Stroke Association; Welsh Assembly Government; and World Cancer Research Fund. The following organisations have joined the NPRI funding partnership recently to help support further research in the future: Alzheimer's Research Trust; Alzheimer's Society; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

University of Exeter

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