May 4, 2007


RWJF commits funds to childhood obesity
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will commit at least $500 million over the next five years to fight childhood obesity in the U.S.

The Foundation will focus on improving access to affordable healthy foods and opportunities for safe physical activity in schools and communities and will emphasize reaching children at greatest risk for obesity and related health problems: African-American, Latino, Native American, Asian American and Pacific Islander children living in low-income communities. For more information go to

WOMAN challenge
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health will launch the WOMAN Challenge (Women and Girls Out Moving Across the Nation) during National Women's Health Week, May 13-19.

This free eight-week challenge encourages women and girls to walk 10,000 steps or get 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. Participants will receive a pedometer, a tracking log, and weekly motivational e-mails and health tips to help them reach their goal. For more information and to register online, go to


Achieving energy balance at the population level through increases in physical activity
Costanza, M.C., Beer-Borst, S., & Morabia, A. (2007). Achieving energy balance at the population level through increases in physical activity. American Journal of Public Health, 97 (3), 520-526.

The authors estimated the amount of physical activity required for individuals to expend an additional 418.4 kJ (100 kcal) per day with the goal of achieving energy balance at the population level. Data on total daily energy expenditures were derived from a random sample of adults residing in Geneva, Switzerland, who completed a self-administered physical activity frequency questionnaire.

These data were used to simulate the effects of typical physical activity pyramid recommendations on average population energy expenditures for various activity intensities and rates of population compliance with pyramid recommendations.

If an average 418.4 kJ (100 kcal) per day increase in energy expenditures is to be achieved, assuming 100% compliance with physical activity pyramid recommendations, the bottom tier of the pyramid must correspond to everyday activities performed at moderate to high intensity levels (e.g., moderate walking or biking). Expected population gains in energy expenditures would be only 167.4 to 251.0 kJ (40 to 60 kcal) per day at a 50% compliance rate.

Achieving population-level energy balance through increasing energy expenditures with physical activity increases alone would require profound structural and environmental changes promoting more active lifestyles.

Active living research papers featured in American Journal of Health Promotion.
A special issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion March/April 2007, Vol. 21, No. 4) highlights papers presented at the third Annual Active Living Research Conference in February 2006. For free access to the 2007 supplement, go to

There are other special supplements (childhood obesity, health promoting urban design) worth checking out.

Association of the built environment with physical activity and obesity in older persons
Berke, E.M., Koepsell, T.D., Moudon, A.V., Hoskins, R.E., & Larson, E.B. (2007). Association of the built environment with physical activity and obesity in older persons. American Journal of Public Health, 97 (3), 486-493.

We examined whether older people who live in areas that are conducive to walking are more active or less obese than those living in areas where walking is more difficult. We used data from the Adult Changes in Thought cohort study for a cross-sectional analysis of 936 participants aged 65 to 97 years.

The Walkable and Bikable Communities Project previously formulated a walkability score to predict the probability of walking in King County, Washington. Data from the cohort study were linked to the walkability score at the participant level using a geographic information system.

Analyses tested for associations between walkability score and activity and body mass index. Higher walkability scores were associated with significantly more walking for exercise across buffers (circular zones around each respondent's home) of varying radii (for men, odds ratio [OR]=5.86; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.01, 34.17 to OR=9.14; CI=1.23, 68.11; for women, OR=1.63; CI=0.94, 2.83 to OR=1.77; CI=1.03, 3.04).

A trend toward lower body mass index in men living in more walkable neighbourhoods did not reach statistical significance. Findings suggest that neighbourhood characteristics are associated with the frequency of walking for physical activity in older people. Whether frequency of walking reduces obesity prevalence is less clear.

Availability of recreational resources and physical activity in adults
Diez Roux, A.V., Evenson, K.R., McGinn, A.P., Brown, D.G., et al. Availability of recreational resources and physical activity in adults. (2007). American Journal of Public Health, 97 (3), 493-500.

Using data from a large cohort of adults aged 45- to 84-years-old, the authors investigated whether availability of recreational resources is related to physical activity levels. Data from a multiethnic sample of 2,723 adult residents of New York City, N.Y.; Baltimore, MD; and Forsyth County, N.C., were linked to data on locations of recreational resources.

The authors measured the availability (density) of resources within 0.5 (0.8 kilometres), 1, 2, and 5 miles of each participant's residence and used binomial regression to investigate associations of density with physical activity. After adjustment for potential confounders, individuals in the tertile of participants residing in areas with the highest density of resources were more likely to report physical activity during a typical week than were individuals in the lowest tertile.

Associations between availability of recreational resources and physical activity levels were not present for the smallest area assessed (0.5 miles) but were present for areas ranging from 1 to 5 miles. These associations were slightly stronger among minority and low-income residents. Availability of resources may be one of several environmental factors that influence individuals' physical activity behaviors.

Body mass index in urban Canada: Neighborhood and metropolitan area effects
Ross, N.A., Tremblay, S., Khan, S., Crouse, D., et al. Body mass index in urban Canada: Neighborhood and metropolitan area effects. (2007). American Journal of Public Health, 97 (3), 500-509.

The authors investigated the influence of neighborhood and metropolitan area characteristics on body mass index (BMI) in urban Canada in 2001. They conducted a multilevel analysis with data collected from a cross-sectional survey of men and women nested in neighbourhoods and metropolitan areas in urban Canada during 2001.

After controlling for individual sociodemographic characteristics and behaviours, the average BMIs of residents of neighbourhoods in which a large proportion of people had less than a high school education were higher than those BMIs of residents in neighborhoods with small proportions of such individuals (P<.01). Living in a neighbourhood with a high proportion of recent immigrants was associated with lower BMI for men (P<.01) but not for women. Neighbourhood dwelling density was not associated with BMI for either gender. Metropolitan sprawl was associated with higher BMI for men (P=.02), but the effect was not significant for women (P=.09). BMI is strongly patterned by an individual's social position in urban Canada. A neighbourhood's social condition has an incremental influence on the average BMI of its residents. However, BMI is not influenced by dwelling density. Metropolitan sprawl is associated with higher BMI for Canadian men, which supports recent evidence of this same association among American men. Individuals and their environments collectively influence BMI in urban Canada. Contribution of public parks to physical activity
Cohen, D.A., McKenzie, T.L., Seghal, A., Williamson, S., et al. (2007). Contribution of public parks to physical activity. American Journal of Public Health, 97 (3), 509-515.

Parks provide places for people to experience nature, engage in physical activity and relax. The authors studied how residents in low-income, minority communities use public, urban neighbourhood parks and how parks contribute to physical activity.

In eight public parks, we used direct observation to document the number, gender, race/ethnicity, age group, and activity level of park users four times per day, severn days per week.

We also interviewed 713 park users and 605 area residents living within 2 miles of each park. On average, over 2,000 individuals were counted in each park, and about two thirds were sedentary when observed.

More males than females used the parks, and males were twice as likely to be vigorously active.

Interviewees identified the park as the most common place they exercised. Both park use and exercise levels of individuals were predicted by proximity of their residence to the park.

Public parks are critical resources for physical activity in minority communities. Because residential proximity is strongly associated with physical activity and park use, the number and location of parks are currently insufficient to serve local populations well.

Internet physical activity intervention evaluation
Spittaels, De Bourdeaudhuil, Vandelanotte. (2007). Evaluation of website-delivered computer-tailored intervention for increasing physical activity on the general population. Preventative Medicine, 44, 209-217.

Two hundred eighty-five adults in Belgium completed self-reported pre-/post-test questionnaires to evaluate a website-delivered physical activity intervention.

he adults were placed in one of three groups: receiving intervention with feedback, receiving intervention without feedback, and no intervention. After six months, both intervention groups showed significant increases in both active transportation and leisure-time physical activity levels compared to the control group. There were no significant differences between the two intervention groups.

Journal articles are now available through LIN and SIRC. The first group of articles is available now at You will see titles such as:
"Where Technology is Taking Fitness Management"
"Walking: Take Steps to Good Health"
"Exercise Turns Back The Clock"
"Choosing a Sports Program for Your Child"
"Cities of Hope"
"Positive Lifestyles for Kids"

Physical activity assessment tool
Meriwether, McMahon, Islam, et al. (2006). Physical activity assessment: Validation of a clinical assessment tool. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 31 (6),484-491.

The Physical Activity Assessment Tool (PAAT) was validated against the Manufacturing Technology Inc (MTI) accelerometer, a direct, objective measure of physical activity, and a previously validated self-report instrument, the International Physical Activity Questionnaire-Long Form (IPAQ-Long).

Sixty-eight adult volunteers were recruited from a university community to participate in the study. Participants completed the PAAT and IPAQ-Long twice and wore a MTI accelerometer for 14 days. Significant correlations were found between the PAAT and IPAQ and the PAAT and MTI for moderate/vigorous PA (MVPA). H

However, the PAAT classified fewer patients as active than either the MTI or IPAQ. Between-weeks correlations for physical activity measured by PAAT were significant for total MVPA supporting test-retest reliability. The PAAT demonstrated adequate concurrent and criterion validity and warrants further investigation as a self-report measure of physical activity.

VERB campaign evaluation
Huhman, Potter, Duke, et al. (2007). Evaluation of a national physical activity intervention for children. VERB Campaign, 2002-2004.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 32 (1), 484-491.

The VERB campaign targeted children and promoted physical activity through marketing activities, such as television advertising and community and school promotional activities.
A baseline survey was conducted before the campaign activities began and at one-year and two-year follow-ups using the Youth Media Campaign Longitudinal Survey (YMCLS) to evaluate the behavioural and psychosocial effects of the VERB campaign.
Results showed that as self-reported frequency of VERB exposure increased, physical activity on the day before the interview and median number of weekly sessions of physical activity during free time increased.
Children aware of the VERB campaign reported more previous-day physical activity than those unaware of the campaign. The VERB campaign also showed positive effects on outcome expectations, social influences and self-efficacy. These results suggest health marketing shows promise as an effective tool in changing children’s attitudes and behaviours.


Aimfree Manuals
The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD)
has announced the release of the AIMFREE (Accessibility Instruments Measuring Fitness and Recreation Environments) Manuals, a validated series of questionnaire measures that can be used by persons with mobility limitations and professionals to assess the accessibility of recreation and fitness facilities.
The six different versions are available in a box set for $125 per set, or a photocopy may be requested for $10 per version. For more information about AIMFREE manuals, go to

New physical education curriculum analysis tool
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released its new Physical Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (PECAT) to help school districts conduct assessments of their physical education curriculum, based upon national physical education standards.
The tool also includes guidance for curriculum improvements based on the assessment results. For more information about PECAT, go to .

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