Readers Choose Most Influential Research

Top articles emphasize the importance of environment and physical activity.

Recently, RWJF asked Web site visitors and subscribers to choose the most influential childhood obesity research for the past year. The results are in, and the five articles receiving the most votes demonstrate the perceived importance of environment.

The article receiving the most votes, "Proximity of Fast-Food Restaurants to Schools and Adolescent Obesity," indicated that adolescents with fast-food restaurants within one half mile of schools were more likely to be overweight or obese and less likely to consume fruits and vegetables. Two other articles in the top five emphasized the need to explore approaches for improving the availability and access to healthy eating options within school and neighborhood environments, while two more highlighted the importance of physical activity for prevention.

In particular, the article receiving the fifth highest number of votes, "Cost Effectiveness of Community-Based Physical Activity Interventions," found that four types of community-based physical activity programs were cost-effective, reduced new cases of certain chronic diseases, and improved the quality of life. This article also won the 2009 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Shepard Award for Best Paper in Prevention and Control.

The top five articles with the highest number of votes (in descending order) are:

  1. Proximity of Fast-Food Restaurants to Schools and Adolescent Obesity
  2. Influences of Physical and Social Neighborhood Environments on Children’s Physical Activity and Obesity
  3. Association between School Food Environment and Practices and Body Mass Index of US Public School Children
  4. Creating Healthy Food and Eating Environments: Policy and Environmental Approaches
  5. Cost Effectiveness of Community-Based Physical Activity Interventions

Many thanks to everyone who voted.

Over 900 people cast votes in the selection of the most influential childhood obesity articles from a list of 20. Voters came from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The largest percentage of voters was from California (16.8 percent); followed by Texas (5.5 percent); and Connecticut (4.4 percent). Thirty-one percent of voters were academics while the remaining voters represented nonprofits or associations, government, health institutions, health providers, foundations and the media. Below are the additional nominees for the Childhood Obesity Research poll:

Marketing of Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value to Children in Schools

Food Prices and Obesity: Evidence and Policy Implications for Taxes and Subsidies

Child Care as an Untapped Setting for Obesity Prevention: State Child Care Licensing Regulations Related to Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Media Use for Preschool-Aged Children in the United States

Fast-Food Restaurant Advertising on Television and its Influence on Childhood Obesity

A Randomized Trial of the Effects of Reducing Television Viewing and Computer Use on Body Mass Index in Young Children

Increasing Caloric Contribution from Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and 100% Fruit Juices Among US Children and Adolescents, 1988–2004

Measuring the Built Environment for Physical Activity: State of the Science

Legal and Public Health Considerations Affecting the Success, Reach, and Impact of Menu-Labeling Laws

Arkansas Act 1220 of 2003 to Reduce Childhood Obesity: Its Implementation and Impact on Child and Adolescent Body Mass Index

The Context for Choice: Health Implications of Targeted Food and Beverage Marketing to African Americans

Public Health Interventions for Addressing Childhood Overweight: Analysis of the Business Case

Associations of the Local Food Environment with Diet Quality—A Comparison of Assessments Based on Surveys and Geographic Information Systems: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis

Is Support for Traditionally Designed Communities Growing? Evidence from Two National Surveys

Measures of the Food Environment: A Compilation of the Literature, 1990–2007

High Body Mass Index for Age Among US Children and Adolescents, 2003–2006

While the list of childhood obesity research featured here is only a very small slice of the interdisciplinary work that has been published, this exercise supports our goal to build the evidence-base on best practices for childhood obesity prevention. If you’d like to keep up with this topic, we encourage you to visit our childhood obesity area as well as the new RWJF Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity, which strives to share the latest news, resources, tools and strategies for childhood obesity prevention as they emerge.

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