Are programs directed at childhood obesity working? Battelle is working with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to find out.
Battelle is implementing the Healthy Communities Study (HCS), the first study to systematically examine the association between characteristics of community programs and policies targeting childhood obesity and children’s obesity-related outcomes. Working with partners at the University of South Carolina, the University of Kansas and the University of California-Berkeley, the Battelle team has launched data collection in a diverse sample of 130 communities across the country.
The complex data collection protocol includes community, school, household and individual data. Trained Battelle staff conduct semi-structured interviews with local key informants to document the evolution of community programs and policies related to diet and physical activity over the past ten years, including intervention strategy, duration, and estimated reach. The Battelle team has completed interviews with more than 1,100 key informants to date. School personnel have provided information on programs and policies related to nutrition and physical activity, and trained project staff have visited schools and recorded observational data on the school environment.
Battelle has trained more than 200 local field data collectors to conduct neighborhood observations and structured family interviews and obtain current measurements and medical records for child participants. Staged sampling is used to collect measures of physical activity and nutrition across the entire sample of children, with a subset assessed using more costly and detailed measures. Battelle has completed household data collection with more than 4,200 families to date and medical records retrieval is in process.
Data from the HCS will be analyzed to describe childhood obesity outcomes as a function of current program/policy intensity within their communities. Children’s growth trajectories will be modeled as a function of how programs and policies have evolved over time in each community. Data collection will end in fall 2015 and data analysis will be completed in summer 2016.
In addition to NHLBI, four other NIH institutes are contributing funding for this project. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also partners in this study.