This symposium addressed the ongoing development of new technologies for the objective measurement of physical activity and diet and efforts to provide best practice guidelines for scientists developing, evaluating and using existing and new technologies for the objective measurement of physical activity. The research projects discussed and the workshop overview presented are components of the Genes, Environment, and Health Initiative (GEI) of the National Institutes of Health. The rationale, plans and progress of the GEI physical activity and diet initiative were presented. Detailed presentations described 2 projects focused on the use of mobile phone based systems designed to collect, process and store data; 1 uses multiple wireless accelerometers to detect body movement and the other uses a camera built into a mobile phone and advanced software to quantify dietary intake. Given the rapid development of new accelerometer-based physical activity measurement devices and analytical approaches, it is important that best practices be used by scientists and practitioners using theses devices. An overview of a “best practices” workshop held in July 2009 was presented. The presentations and discussions during this symposium made evident the progress, potential and challenges of implementing advanced technologies to enhance the measurement of physical activity and diet.
The author is with the Stanford Prevention Research Center, School of Medicine, Stanford University.