Technologies to Measure and Modify Physical Activity and Eating Environments
King, A. C., Glanz, K., & Patrick, K. (2015). Technologies to Measure and Modify Physical Activity and Eating Environments. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 48(5), 630-638.
This paper is part of a special themed section in AJPM, funded by Active Living Research, Healthy Eating Research, and the University of Pennsylvania, highlighting outcomes from a Built Environment and Assessment Training (BEAT) Institute Think Tank meeting on the state of science and practice in environmental assessment.
CONTEXT: The explosion of technologic advances in information capture and delivery offers unparalleled opportunities to assess and modify built and social environments in ways that can positively impact health behaviors. This paper highlights some potentially transformative current and emerging trends in the technology arena applicable to environmental context-based assessment and intervention relevant to physical activity and dietary behaviors. EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: A team of experts convened in 2013 to discuss the main issues related to technology use in assessing and changing built environments for health behaviors particularly relevant to obesity prevention. Each expert was assigned a specific domain to describe, commensurate with their research and expertise in the field, along with examples of specific applications. This activity was accompanied by selective examination of published literature to cover the main issues and elucidate relevant applications of technologic tools and innovations in this field. EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: Decisions concerning which technology examples to highlight were reached through discussion and consensus-building among the team of experts. Two levels of impact are highlighted: the “me” domain, which primarily targets measurement and intervention activities aimed at individual-level behaviors and their surrounding environments; and the “we” domain, which generally focuses on aggregated data aimed at groups and larger population segments and locales. CONCLUSIONS: The paper ends with a set of challenges and opportunities for significantly advancing the field. Key areas for progress include data collection and expansion, managing technologic considerations, and working across sectors to maximize the population potential of behavioral health technologies.