In 2001 the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation created its national program, Active Living Research, to build evidence of the role of the built environment and policies in influencing physical activity. The program was based on ecological models that recognize that behavior, and obesity-prevention interventions targeting behavior change, are influenced by multiple factors—intrapersonal, interpersonal, the built environment, and policies.
To explore the extent to which ecological models have been applied to obesity-related topics, these researchers systematically coded the abstracts of papers presented at Society of Behavioral Medicine conferences over the past 15 years. The conferences are recognized as the leading venue to present behavioral research on obesity, physical activity, and nutrition.
They found that the percent of abstracts covering physical activity, nutrition, or obesity that also included environmental or policy content, increased steadily from 1995 (5%) to 2005 (12%) to 2010 (17%), with most of the increases between 2000 and 2005. During that time, the Centers for Disease Control launched its Active Community Environments program and RWJF Active Living Research and Healthy Eating Research, which all provided dedicated funding for environmental and policy research in physical activity and nutrition.
“The public health significance of the increase in studies of environment and policy factors is that an evidence base is being built that can inform more comprehensive, multi-level interventions to produce sustainable population-wide improvements in physical activity, nutrition, and obesity,” the authors conclude.
- 1. Translating Research to Policy Through Health Impact Assessment in Clark County, Washington
- 2. Uneven Playing Field--Effective Strategies to Address Health Inequity Through Active Living Research
- 3. Using Evidence to Create Active Communities: Stories from the Field--Policy and Research with Chicago's Child Care Centers
- 4. Trends in Presentations of Environmental and Policy Studies Related to Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity at Society of Behavioral Medicine, 1995-2010
- 5. Spatial Disparities in the Distribution of Parks and Green Spaces in the USA
- 6. Exploring the Distribution of Park Availability, Features, and Quality Across Kansas City, Missouri by Income and Race/Ethnicity
- 7. Perceptions of Neighborhood Park Quality
- 8. Gender Differences in Self-Report Physical Activity and Park and Recreation Facility Use Among Latinos in Wake County, North Carolina
- 9. Beyond Distance: Children's School Travel Mode Choice
- 10. The Perceived and Built Environment Surrounding Urban Schools and Physical Activity Among Adolescent Girls
- 11. Aesthetic Amenities and Safety Hazards Associated with Walking and Bicycling for Transportation in New York City
- 12. Does Neighbourhood Walkability Moderate the Effects of Mass Media Communication Strategies to Promote Regular Physical Activity?
- 13. Individual-and Area-Level Disparities in Access to the Road Network, Subway System and a Public Bicycle Share Program on the Island of Montreal, Canada
- 14. Effect of Bike Lane Infrastructure Improvements on Ridership in One New Orleans Neighborhood
- 15. Using Google Street View to Audit the Built Environment
- 16. School Sport Participation Under Two School Sport Policies
- 17. Physical Education and Student Activity
- 18. District and School Physical Education Policies
- 19. Predictors of Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) in African American Young Adolescents
- 20. Pathways to Outdoor Recreation, Physical Activity, and Delinquency Among Urban Latino Adolescents
- 21. Locations of Joint Physical Activity in Parent-Child Pairs Based on Accelerometer and GPS Monitoring