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Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health
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Keynote Junior Research Meet-up: Eva Corpeleijn - ‘Lifestyle in medicine, from dream to reality’

Datum:13 februari 2019
Eva Corpeleijn
Eva Corpeleijn

Eva Corpeleijn is an associate professor at the department of Epidemiology, University Medical Center Groningen where she leads the research unit ‘Lifestyle Medicine in Obesity and Diabetes’. A key question in her work is why and how lifestyle affects health.

The surprising impact of a healthy lifestyle
Before coming to Groningen, Eva Corpeleijn studied Nutrition Science at Wageningen University. It was during her PhD that she discovered the impact that a healthy lifestyle can have on people’s well-being: “When I started my studies in Nutrition Science in Wageningen, I had no idea that Lifestyle would become such a big topic in health care. What I learned during my PhD is how effective it can really be to prevent type 2 diabetes. The best thing is that lifestyle was more effective than medication.”

The challenge of defining a healthy lifestyle
But what is this ‘healthy lifestyle’? Is it possible to come up with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution that ensures a healthy lifestyle in the many different people that are part of society? The answer is no, but luckily science can help us in developing guidelines for a healthy lifestyle that take into account people’s personal needs: “To decide what is a healthy lifestyle really depends on the perspective, which makes it a bit complicated sometimes. Take for example nutrition. What is good for a baby is not necessarily good for an adult, or what is good to prevent obesity is not necessarily good to prevent frailty in elderly people. A good way to decide what is a healthy lifestyle is to gather scientific evidence, make a proper analysis of the individual situation and then combine this information using common sense to decide what is healthy.”

What public health and lifestyle epidemiology can learn from each other
As the junior arm of the Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health, the Aletta’s Talent Network aims to promote the connection between researchers from different disciplines who work on public health related topics. The link between public health and lifestyle epidemiology may seem obvious, but how exactly can researchers in both fields of expertise learn from each other? According to Eva Corpeleijn, the answers lies in prevention: “What is good in terms of prevention may also work in a care setting, and vice versa, especially in the lifestyle field. I would really like to see more overlap in the domains of prevention and care.”

The million dollar question: how can junior researchers succeed in academia?
“Apart from teaching yourself the right skills and knowledge, you need to find a place and people that help you bring out the best of yourself. Find a place where you feel you can thrive and be the best version of yourself.”

In her keynote lecture Dr. Corpeleijn will talk about how lifestyle has gained its position in medicine. Improving people’s lifestyle has shown to have a better chance of preventing the currently emerging epidemic of diabetes than an early start of treatment medication. Research helps to increase our understanding of the physiological processes underlying obesity and the factors that play a role in changing health behaviours. This understanding has uncovered the realization that in order to promote a healthy lifestyle, creating a healthy living environment is crucial. 

The Junior Research Meet-up will take place on 27 February 2019.