Linking a Child’s Environment to Obesity

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]There is a global childhood obesity epidemic and researchers in the United States are working toward solutions, including prevention. Compared to adults, there has been relatively little research linking a child’s environment to their weight. This report, published in The Obesity Journal on August 23,2018, is a continuation of findings from the Neighborhood Impact on Kids (NIK) study and focuses on both physical activity and nutrition environments, two  factors that can affect a child’s weight. Behavioral factors were also considered, like daily energy intake and sedentary behavior.

A team of researchers gathered data twice over a two year span, in four types of different metropolitan neighborhoods in two large cities. They looked at several factors, like the age of the parents and the proximity of a quality park, then compared these data for each child to the child’s BMI. A favorable neighborhood in the study had a supermarket nearby with good nutrition and a quality park within walking distance of the child’s home. Less favorable neighborhoods had fast food easily accessible, no supermarkets nearby and nowhere for the children to play within a 1/2 mile. The findings looked at whether the neighborhood characteristics predicted the children outcomes going forward over the two years of the study.

The results of the study showed that children living in less favorable neighborhoods were 41% to 49% more likely to be overweight, and that these effects were found across two years. City planners and developers can use this evidence when designing neighborhoods that support healthy families.

Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, a co-author on the study, noted “This study is unique and important in that it allowed us to make clear comparisons between ‘healthier’ and ‘less healthy’ food and activity environments over multiple years. The findings underscore how important environments can be in shaping behaviors and the health of children.”

Neighborhoods Impact on Kids (NIK) is an observational study, evaluating cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of neighborhood-level activity and nutrition environments with children’s weight status and obesity. The study is led by Dr. Brian Saelens, currently at Seattle Children’s Hospital.[/vc_column_text][vc_btn title=”Read the study” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”2293″ img_size=”full” onclick=”img_link_large” css=”.vc_custom_1536245556069{border-radius: 2px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Team-based Goals Enhance Incentives to Increase Physical Activity





In the March 15, 2016 issue of Journal of General Internal Medicine,  UPenn PRC Director Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD, UPenn PRC researcher David Asch, MD, MBA, and co-authors reported on a study to compare the effectiveness of individual versus team-based financial incentives to increase physical activity.

304 employees from a Philadelphia-based organization formed 76 four-member teams. Participants received daily feedback on a daily 7,000 step goal during intervention and follow-up periods. A participant on a winning team was eligible for a $50 award if he/she met the goal (individual incentive), a $50 award only if all four team members met the goal (team incentive), or a $20 award if he/she met the goal individually and $10 more for each of three teammates that also met the goal (combined incentive.)  The control group received no other incentive. For the three financial incentive groups, every-other-day drawings were held during the intervention period.

Participants in the combined incentive group achieved their goal 35 percent of the time, nearly double the success rate for the control and team incentive groups (18 and 17 percent, respectively), and still higher than the average success rate for participants rewarded based on individual performance (25 percent). Compared to the control group, participants receiving the combined incentive had 1,446 more steps per day.

“The findings of our study shed light on how financial incentive programs can be used to change people’s behavior towards better health, and how physical activity interventions and wellness programs can be better designed,” said senior author Kevin G. Volpp, MD, PhD, a professor of Medicine and Health Care Management, and director of the Penn Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics. “People are accountable to themselves but also to others and, in this vein, it may not be surprising that the incentive that provided rewards based on individual and was most effective.”


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Do Financial Incentives for Increasing Physical Activity Work?

Annals of Internal Medicine In the February 16, 2016 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine,  UPenn PRC Director Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD, UPenn PRC researcher David Asch, MD, MBA, and co-authors reported on a study to test the effectiveness of offering financial incentives to increase physical activity among overweight and obese adults.

Participants were divided among three groups. Researchers found the most powerful incentive was the possibility of losing money that would be taken away if a 7,000-step daily goal was not met.  This finding suggest a new approach which may be helpful to the most sedentary overweight and obese.

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