The Built Environment Assessment Training (BEAT) Institute grew out of the recognition that environmental and policy changes are some of the most promising strategies for controlling obesity and improving diet and physical activity. A new Built Environment Assessment Training (BEAT) has been updated by the People, Health, and Place Unit of the Washington University in St. Louis Prevention Research. Originally developed at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Health Behavior Research and the UPenn Prevention Research, the course is designed for planning and evaluating changes to the built environment for health and wellbeing. Specifically, to instruct researchers, students, planners, and health practitioners on observational measures. The modules of this course offer tools and resources for assessing streets, parks, trails, and neighborhood landscapes for physical activity.


History of BEAT

From 2008-2012, the BEAT Institute offered week-long in-person training institutes for researchers and practitioners. In 2013, the Institute hosted a think tank meeting on built environment and health science.

From 2010-2015, the BEAT Institute was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, 2010-85215-20659, and until 2021 it was sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Prevention Research Center and the Center for Health Behavior Research, with the University of California, San Diego, and San Diego State University Prevention Research Center.


Inspired Activity

The research culminated in the 2015 American Journal of Preventive Medicine theme issue titled “Built Environment Assessment and Interventions for Obesity Prevention: Moving the Field Forward.” Learn more about the issue here.


PHP Unit Steers the Ship

In 2021, the of the Washington University in St. Louis Prevention Research Center committed to updating and reestablishing the online BEAT Institute training program. Course modules will be added and updated in the years to come.

We continue to collaborate with the PHP team as they update the courses and site with new and expanded content, including training and tools for measuring nutrition environments. If you have questions about the current BEAT course, please contact Research Manager Áine O’Connor at

Visit our BEAT website at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania HERE to learn more.