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Advancing Science and Policy Through a Coordinated International Study of Physical Activity and Built Environments: IPEN Adult Methods

Description

Background: National and international strategies to increase physical activity emphasize environmental and policy changes that can have widespread and long-lasting impact. Evidence from multiple countries using comparable methods is required

Background: National and international strategies to increase physical activity emphasize environmental and policy changes that can have widespread and long-lasting impact. Evidence from multiple countries using comparable methods is required to strengthen the evidence base for such initiatives. Because some environment and policy changes could have generalizable effects and others may depend on each country's context, only international studies using comparable methods can identify the relevant differences. Methods: Currently 12 countries are participating in the International Physical Activity and the Environment Network (IPEN) study. The IPEN Adult study design involves recruiting adult participants from neighborhoods with wide variations in environmental walkability attributes and socioeconomic status (SES). Results: Eleven of twelve countries are providing accelerometer data and 11 are providing GIS data. Current projections indicate that 14,119 participants will provide survey data on built environments and physical activity and 7145 are likely to provide objective data on both the independent and dependent variables. Though studies are highly comparable, some adaptations are required based on the local context. Conclusions: This study was designed to inform evidence-based international and country-specific physical activity policies and interventions to help prevent obesity and other chronic diseases that are high in developed countries and growing rapidly in developing countries.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2013

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International variation in neighborhood walkability, transit, and recreation environments using geographic information systems: the IPEN adult study

Description

Background
The World Health Organization recommends strategies to improve urban design, public transportation, and recreation facilities to facilitate physical activity for non-communicable disease prevention for an increasingly urbanized global population.

Background
The World Health Organization recommends strategies to improve urban design, public transportation, and recreation facilities to facilitate physical activity for non-communicable disease prevention for an increasingly urbanized global population. Most evidence supporting environmental associations with physical activity comes from single countries or regions with limited variation in urban form. This paper documents variation in comparable built environment features across countries from diverse regions.
Methods
The International Physical Activity and the Environment Network (IPEN) study of adults aimed to measure the full range of variation in the built environment using geographic information systems (GIS) across 12 countries on 5 continents. Investigators in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, China, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States followed a common research protocol to develop internationally comparable measures. Using detailed instructions, GIS-based measures included features such as walkability (i.e., residential density, street connectivity, mix of land uses), and access to public transit, parks, and private recreation facilities around each participant’s residential address using 1-km and 500-m street network buffers.
Results
Eleven of 12 countries and 15 cities had objective GIS data on built environment features. We observed a 38-fold difference in median residential densities, a 5-fold difference in median intersection densities and an 18-fold difference in median park densities. Hong Kong had the highest and North Shore, New Zealand had the lowest median walkability index values, representing a difference of 9 standard deviations in GIS-measured walkability.
Conclusions
Results show that comparable measures can be created across a range of cultural settings revealing profound global differences in urban form relevant to physical activity. These measures allow cities to be ranked more precisely than previously possible. The highly variable measures of urban form will be used to explain individuals’ physical activity, sedentary behaviors, body mass index, and other health outcomes on an international basis. Present measures provide the ability to estimate dose–response relationships from projected changes to the built environment that would otherwise be impossible.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014-10-25