Issue 17, March 2013

Issue 17, March 2013

Active Living Research News

ALR Annual Meeting

Informed, Energized, and Inspired at the 10th Annual Conference

A record 350 people attended the ALR conference last month in San Diego. Nearly half of the attendees were newcomers—a terrific indication of the growing interest in active living. We also welcomed many international participants, including delegates from Taiwan, Australia, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and of course Canada. Participants enjoyed many opportunities to be physically active in a literal paradise, including beach volleyball, riding bicycles, and Zumba. Thank you to our co-chairs Maya Rockeymoore and Christina Economos for their leadership in planning a wonderfully successful event!

This year we had two distinguished keynotes. Laura K. Brennan, President and CEO of Transtria, shared insights from the evaluation of 25 communities funded by Active Living by Design to implement policy and built environment changes. And the Honorable Mick Cornett, Mayor of Oklahoma City, Okla., enthralled the audience with the story of his city’s transformation into a vibrant and healthy city, with huge investments in parks, trails, and sidewalks.

We also held a story slam to celebrate the conference’s 10th anniversary. Storytellers shared memories of their early ALR experiences, hilarious research vignettes, active adventures, and touching tributes to Jim Sallis and the ALR program. We appreciated all those brave souls who got up on stage to tell their stories, and were especially delighted by Jason Bocarro and Jay Maddock’s skills as emcees.

View the 2013 conference presentations, read Jim Sallis’ event re-cap, and check out the photos.

Translating Research to Policy Award

Congratulations to the Model Communities Initiative of Suburban Cook County, Ill., recipients of ALR’s sixth annual Translating Research to Policy Award. The Model Communities program focuses on changing policies and environments to help make the healthy choice the easier choice for individuals and families in suburban Cook County, Ill. Read their story and visit the 2013 Translation Award page.

ALR Resources

Papers from 2012 ALR Conference

The February 2013 supplement to Annals of Behavioral Medicine includes papers selected from abstracts submitted for presentation at ALR’s 2012 conference. Many of the papers in this issue will have an accompanying research brief to help share the findings more broadly.

Counting Bicyclists and Pedestrians to Inform Transportation Planning

This brief describes technologies for counting bicycles and pedestrians and the benefits and challenges associated with different approaches. It also explains how count data can be used to inform transportation planning, presents trends in levels of bicycle and pedestrian activity, and illustrates one goal of non-motorized traffic monitoring, i.e., estimating bicycle and pedestrian traffic on streets in cities and towns.

State Laws on School Physical Activity Lack Monitoring and Funding

This brief reports on findings from an assessment of physical education laws across the nation, showing that without adequate monitoring and reporting, the laws are likely to be ineffective.

Do Short Physical Activity Breaks in Classrooms Work?

This brief summarizes the research on how programs that provide classroom physical activity breaks impact physical activity, academic performance, health and related factors in children. The focus is on activity breaks held in the classroom and it does not include PE or recess.

Travel to School in California

Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership issued a policy brief highlighting key findings from a study focusing on California household travel data. The findings can help California decision-makers better understand trends in walking, how walking in California compares to the rest of the nation, how children’s travel to school fits into their overall daily travel, and parent’s concerns about allowing their children to walk to school.

Grantee Highlights

Playability of Public Spaces

Congratulations to Jeannette Gustat for receiving a $3,000 research grant from the US Play Coalition for her project, Developing a Community Play Index (CPI). This tool will enable researchers, policy-makers, and community members to survey the “playability” of public spaces. The index’s measures can be incorporated into parks and recreation design guidelines and planning agency benchmarks for measuring city or regional health and physical activity.

Grantee Publications

Where and With Whom Are Children Active?

Genevieve Dunton used mobile phones to assess where and with whom children's leisure-time physical activity (e.g. active play/sports/exercise) occurs. The study took place in and around Chino, Calif., among primarily low- to middle-income children. Most of children's physical activity occurred outdoors away from home and indoors at home (42% and 30%, respectively). Children were most often active together with friends and family, and were active alone only 15 percent of the time.

Latino Youth Advocates Fight Obesity

Terry Huang’s project created a pilot program in South Omaha, a Latino community in Nebraska, to explore the potential of youth advocates to change norms regarding obesity prevention and to advocate for a healthy community. Youth received training in health knowledge, social justice, and marketing and communication skills. The program generated events, resources and materials (e.g. website, street fair, videos, social media, and networks) to support the growth and institutionalization of youth advocacy.

Which Playground Qualities Do African-American Families Choose?

Jack Nasar examined the perceptions of playground characteristics among African-American children and their parents to understand what factors affect families’ choice of playgrounds. Participants viewed photographs of playgrounds and rated facilities and amenities. The study also inventoried and observed children's activities in fourteen playgrounds. Nasar found that participants were more likely to pick playgrounds with equipment and with a softer surface, and children had higher levels of physical activity in playgrounds containing equipment.

Funding Opportunities

Grants to Revolutionize School Physical Activity

Childhood Obesity 180, in partnership with the Let’s Move Campaign, recently announced the Active Schools Acceleration Grants. School teachers, parents, coaches, and other school wellness champions can apply for a grant to kick-start one of three physical activity programs – 100 Mile Club, BOKS, or CHALK/Just Move. Each grant is worth $1,000. Deadline: April 22, 2013.

Applying Behavioral Economics to Perplexing Health and Health Care Challenges

This solicitation seeks proposals that apply the principles and frameworks of behavioral economics in creating new interventions. Special attention will be on supporting experiments that test innovative solutions to the challenge of reducing the use of low-value services in health care. Deadline: April 17, 2013.

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Childhood Obesity Prevention

This funding opportunity is designed to achieve the long-term outcome of reducing the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents 2-19 years. The Childhood Obesity Program supports Multi-function Integrated Research, Education, and/or Extension Projects and Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement Grants. Deadline: April 11, 2013

NIH Grants for Time-Sensitive Obesity Research

The National Institutes of Health has a funding opportunity (RO1) to support time-sensitive research to evaluate a new policy or program expected to influence obesity related behaviors (e.g., dietary intake, physical activity, or sedentary behavior) and/or weight outcomes in an effort to prevent or reduce obesity. Application deadlines: Multiple.

Resources & Other Announcements

Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Youth

The US Department of Health and Human Services released a 5-year follow-up report to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Youth provides recommendations for increasing physical activity among youth in schools, preschool and childcare, communities, homes, and in healthcare. Please help us raise awareness of this report by sharing with your colleagues and networks.

Online Park and Recreation Database and Mapping Tool

An online database and management tool, PRORAGIS, enables professionals to compare budget and operations data across park and recreation departments throughout the country, and conduct spatial analysis of parks and recreation facilities using GIS. PRORAGIS, a project of the National Recreation and Park Association, works by allowing public park and recreation departments to fill in information on their profile. The data can then be used to generate a variety of reports, and users have access to GIS mapping tools. The 2013 Parks and Recreation National Database Report provides an informative look at more than 300 complete profiles distributed across the 2010 to 2012 fiscal years.  

Online Curriculum on the Built Environment and Health

The Built Environment and Public Health Curriculum provides a critical overview of built environment and public health topics organized into a coherent program of study for a full academic semester, or as individual modules to integrate into specific course topics. The course and related web resources provide a foundational understanding of current and emerging design and health issues. Topics include the impact that neighborhood environments have on health disparities.

Newsletter Date: 
Thursday, March 28, 2013