Saturday, December 20, 2014

A virtual audit tool to assess obesogenicity of the build environment in neighbourhoods

A lack of physical activity and overconsumption of energy dense food is associated with overweight and obesity. The neighbourhood environment may stimulate or hinder the development and/or maintenance of a healthy lifestyle. To improve research on the obesogenicity of neighbourhood environments, reliable, valid and convenient assessment methods of potential obesogenic characteristics of neighbourhood environments are needed. In a study just published in pre-pub in the International Journal of Health Geographics -as part of the Spotlight project- we examined the reliability and validity of the SPOTLIGHT-Virtual Audit Tool (S- VAT), which uses remote sensing techniques (Street View feature in Google Earth) for desk- based assessment of environmental obesogenicity.
A total of 128 street segments in four Dutch urban neighbourhoods – heterogeneous in socio- economic status and residential density – were assessed using the S-VAT. Environmental characteristics were categorised as walking related items, cycling related items, public transport, aesthetics, land use-mix, grocery stores, food outlets and physical activity facilities. To assess concordance of inter- and intra-observer reliability of the Street View feature in Google Earth, and validity scores with real life audits, percentage agreement and Cohen's Kappa (k) were calculated.
The results suggest that the S-VAT is a reliable and valid remote sensing tool to assess potential obesogenic environmental characteristics.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Implementation evaluation of school-based obesity prevention programmes in youth; how, what and why?

In an ideal world, one combats public health problems with theory- and evidence-based programmes. In the real world, evidence-based programmes are often lacking and programmes that are developed and implemented are mainly practice-based. Furthermore, if evidence-based programs are available, these are often not implemented as intended, making the effectiveness in real life settings often much lower than ideal.
Three important generic implementation research questions in the context of programme evaluation are: (i) how to promote implementation as intended; (ii) what happens during implementation; and (iii) why did my programme (not) work? In an invited commentary just published in the journal Public Health Nutrition we -with soon-to-be Dr. Femke van Nassau as first author- discuss
these three questions, enriched by our experiences with the school-based obesity prevention programme DOiT(Dutch Obesity Intervention in Teenagers).