Friday, September 2, 2011

Dr Anna Timperio gives a seminar on home and family determinants of overweight in children

Yesterday, Dr. Anna Timperio, of the Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research of Deakin University gave a seminar on her work on home and family environment determinants of physical activity, eating behaviors, sedentary activities and overweight in children. In her seminar she presented an overview of results of the CLAN and HEAPS studies, two longitudinal studies aiming to unravel why children become overweight or not. Her work shows that family environmental factors, such as example behavior of parents, doing physical acyivities together, and the availability of physical activity equipement in the home, appear to be more important than neighbourhood factors, for children's physical activity.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Home and neighbourhood correlates of weight status among children in low socio-economic neighbourhoods in Australia

Understanding the underlying drivers of obesity-risk behaviours is needed to inform prevention initiatives. People, including children, of lower socioeconomic position groups are more likley to be overweight and obese, and understanding of the drivers of such socio-economic differences in weight status are of special importance. It is very likely that  factors in the home and local neighbourhood environments are of importance. However little research has examined such possible determinants among children from low socioeconomic backgrounds. A study conducted in Victoria, Australia, on this topic was recently published by Prof. David Crawford from the Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition of Deakin University. The study examined home, social and neighbourhood correlates of body mass index in children living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Data were collected from 491 women with children aged 5-12 years living in forty urban and forty rural socioeconomically disadvantaged areas (suburbs) of Victoria. Mothers completed questionnaires about the home environment, social norms and neighbourhood environment in relation to physical activity, healthy eating and sedentary behaviour. Children's height and weight were measured at school or home. The results showed that children who had a television in their bedroom  and whose mothers made greater use of food as a reward for good behaviour had higher body mass index. Increasing efficacy among mothers to promote physical activity, limiting use of food as a reward and not placing TV in children's bedrooms may be important targets for future obesity prevention initiatives in disadvantaged communities.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A new grant to further enrich computer-tailored health education

Computer-tailored health education, i.e. using ICT to provide people with individually tailored feedback and advice to motivate and enable more healthy lifestyles, is a very promising health education technique (see Brug et al for an early overview of the evidence, Oenema et al for a firts study on web-based computer-tailoring, or Kroeze et al for a more recent systematic review). One of the critiques on this form of on-line health education is that it does not include the necessary social interaction to better realise lasting behavior changes. With the development and very fast dissemination of web-based social networks, the distribution of mobile internet, and ever faster and more powerful mobile devices, the possibilities to provide computer-tailored health education where and when it matters, based on objective measures of behavioral patterns, and linking this to social network features become apparant. We have just received notice that we will receive an important research grant, with Dr. Saskia te Velde as the main applicant, in the Partnership programma STW-NIHC-Philips Research“Healthy Lifestyle Solutions” to develop and test such further innovations in computer-tailored health education promoting physical activity among young adults.