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Linda S. Pescatello, Emily A. Hennessy, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, William E. Kraus, Anne F. Fish, Lynette L. Craft, and Blair T. Johnson

Background: Systematic reviews (SRs) and meta-analyses (MAs) have proliferated with a concomitant increase in reviews of SRs/MAs or “meta-reviews” (MRs). As uncovered by the 2018 US Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee (PAGAC), there is a paucity of best practice guidance on MRs on physical activity health-related research. This manuscript aims to fill this gap. Methods: In total, the PAGAC conducted 38 literature searches across 3 electronic databases and triaged 20,838 titles, 4913 abstracts, and 2139 full texts from which 1130 articles qualified for the PAGAC Scientific Report. Results: During the MR process, the following challenges were encountered: (1) if the SR/MA authors had limited experience in synthesis methodology, they likely did not account for risk of bias in the conclusions they reached; (2) many SRs/MAs reviewed the same primary-level studies; (3) many SRs/MAs failed to disclose effect modifier analyses; (4) source populations varied; (5) physical activity exposures were nonstandardized; and (6) dose–response effects or effect modification of the physical activity exposure could not be identified. Conclusions: Using examples from the PAGAC Scientific Report, we provide (1) a high-level introduction to MRs; (2) recommended steps in conducting a MR; (3) challenges that can be encountered; and (4) guidance in addressing these challenges.

Open access

Kenneth E. Powell, Abby C. King, David M. Buchner, Wayne W. Campbell, Loretta DiPietro, Kirk I. Erickson, Charles H. Hillman, John M. Jakicic, Kathleen F. Janz, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, William E. Kraus, Richard F. Macko, David X. Marquez, Anne McTiernan, Russell R. Pate, Linda S. Pescatello, and Melicia C. Whitt-Glover

Background: The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report provides the evidence base for the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition. Methods: The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee addressed 38 questions and 104 subquestions selected for their public health relevance, potential to inform public policies and programs, maturity of the relevant science, and applicability to the general US population. Rigorous systematic literature searches and literature reviews were performed using standardized methods. Results: Newly described benefits of physical activity include reduced risk of excessive weight gain in children and adults, incidence of 6 types of cancer, and fall-related injuries in older people. Physical activity is associated with enhanced cognitive function and mental health across the life span, plus improved mental health and physical function. There is no threshold that must be exceeded before benefits begin to accrue; the accrual is most rapid for the least active individuals. Sedentary time is directly associated with elevated risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, incident cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and selected cancer sites. A wide range of intervention strategies have demonstrated success in increasing physical activity. Conclusion: The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report provides compelling new evidence to inform physical activity recommendations, practice, and policy.