Physical Activity & Obesity Research

Adolescent Health Evidence Synthesis
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Aging & Gerontology Global Health
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Patterns of Infant and Childhood Overweight and Obesity Status

Excess weight gain in infancy and childhood is associated with increased risk of subsequent obesity. Identifying patterns of infancy and childhood weight gain associated with subsequent obesity or overweight status could help identify children at highest risk.  This study, published by BMC Pediatrics and conducted by lead author Joseph Braun, assistant professor of epidemiology,  examined patterns of infancy and early childhood BMI in relation to mid-childhood overweight and obesity status. READ MORE

Social Norms and Support Influence Fruit and Vegetable Consumption













Fruit and vegetable intake among adults in the US is low. On average, only 18% of adults consume the daily recommended intake of fruits and only 14% consume the daily recommended intake of vegetables. Low fruit and vegetable intake is further exacerbated by factors related to low neighborhood socioeconomic position, such as neighborhood-level income, poverty, education, and unemployment. This study, published in BMC Public Healthand conducted by lead author, Akilah Dulin, Manning Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences, examined whether neighborhood-, friend-, and family- norms and social support for consumption and purchase of fruit and vegetables were associated with fruit and vegetable intake among low-income residents in subsidized housing communities. READ MORE

Do you Engage in Physical Activity for Fun? The Answer Could Lie in Your Genes

Leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) is a well-established modifiable lifestyle determinant for multiple cardio-metabolic outcomes including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. However, current understanding of the genetic architecture that may determine LTPA remains very limited. This study,  led by Xiaochen Lin, PhD'17, postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Global Cardiometabolic Health and published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise,  aimed to examine the role of genetic factors in affecting LTPA, which has yet to be investigated comprehensively and in-depth. READ MORE

Obesity Classification Isn’t as Easy as “One-Size-Fits-All”

Public health reporting, randomized trials, and epidemiologic studies of obesity tend to consider obesity as a homogeneous entity. However, obesity may represent a heterogeneous condition according to demographic, clinical, and behavioral factors. This study, conducted by lead author Marcia P. Jimenez, PhD candidate in the department of epidemiology, and published in Annals of Epidemiology, used cluster analysis to identify subgroups classified as obese according to demographic factors, clinical conditions, and behavioral characteristics. READ MORE

A Multi-level Intervention in Worksites to Increase Fruit and Vegetable Access and Intake

Fruit and vegetable consumption is an important contributor to chronic disease prevention. However, most Americans do not eat adequate amounts. The worksite is an advantageous setting to reach large, diverse segments of the population with interventions to increase fruit and vegetable intake, but research gaps exist. No studies have evaluated the implementation of mobile produce markets at worksites nor compared the effectiveness of such markets with or without nutrition education.  This paper, led by Patricia Risica, associate professor of behavioral and social sciences, and published in Contemporary Clinical Trials, describes the protocol for Good to Go, a cluster randomized trial to evaluate fruit and vegetable intake change in employees from worksites randomized into three experimental arms.  The Good to Go program was initiated by Professor Kim Gans in 2009, aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. READ MORE

Positive Incidental Affect and Exercising Are Reciprocally Influential during the Course of a Day

Previous research suggests that how people feel throughout the course of a day (i.e. incidental affect) is predictive of exercise behaviour. Essentially, a mostly separate literature suggests that exercise can lead to more positive incidental affect. This study was conducted by three researchers in the department of behavioral and social sciences: Jessica Emerson, current doctoral student; Shira Dunsiger, assistant professor; and David Williams, associate professor. The study, published in Psychological Health, examined the potential reciprocal effects of incidental affect and exercise behaviour within the same day. READ MORE

Dietary Carbohydrates Intake Related to Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factor

Diets characterized by low glycemic load, low sugar, and higher fiber content may be associated with higher serum sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) levels in postmenopausal women, according to a new study led by graduate student Menga Huang and Simin Liu, Professor of Epidemiology. The results of this study, published in the Journal of Diabetes, suggest that low glycemic load/index diets with low sugar and high fiber content are associated with higher circulating levels of SHBG in this population, which may reduce the risk of a variety of adverse health outcomes. READ MORE

Epigenetic Mediators between Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Mid-Life Body Mass Index

The purpose of this study, published in Psychosomatic Medicine and led by Eric Loucks, assistant professor of epidemiology, was to evaluate whether associations of childhood socioeconomic disadvantage and adult body mass index are mediated by DNA methylation, an epigenetic mechanism. Participants for this study were 141 men and women from the New England Family Study, who were prospectively followed prenatally though a mean age of 47 years. read more

Examining Residents’ Perceived Implications of a HOPE VI Development for the Community, Health, and Physical Activity

HOPE VI (Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere), launched by Congress in 1992, aims to reduce the effects of concentrated poverty by creating mixed-income housing developments in low-income communities with minimal displacement of surrounding residents. This study, published in Journal of Community Practice, and led by Akilah Dulin Keita, assistant professor of behavioral and social sciences, examined surrounding community residents’ perceived implications of a HOPE VI development for the community, health, and physical activity in their Birmingham, AL neighborhood. read more

Newly found, ‘thrifty’ genetic variant influences Samoan obesity

The Samoas’ world-leading rate of obesity is a recent phenomenon, heavily influenced by the globe’s rapid shift to calorie-rich, processed foods and more sedentary lifestyles. A new study, however, led by Stephen McGarvey, professor of epidemiology, suggests nearly half of Samoans have a newly identified and significant genetic variant that contributes to obesity risk; a variant that had remained undiscovered until researchers focused on the islands’ populations. In cell models in the lab, this “thrifty” variant promoted more efficient storage of more fat.  READ MORE

The Exercise-affect-adherence Pathway

A paper published in Frontiers in Psychology and led by Harold Lee, a doctoral student in the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences, examined the exercise-affect-adherence relationship from an evolutionary perspective. The authors argue that low rates of physical exercise in the general population are a function of the evolved human tendency to avoid unnecessary physical exertion. read more

The Food and Activity Environments of Childcare Found to Be Promising Areas for Improving Nutrition and Activity for Children

This study, published in BMC Nutrition, by Patricia Markham Risica, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Behavioral and Social Sciences, was to assess the current state of food served and physical activity practices of Rhode Island childcare centers to identify potential areas for improvement in the DCYF regulations and implementation, by comparing centers with and without USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program participation to assess the potential influence of guidelines in the environments of childcare centers. read more

Study finds low levels of physical activity in Brazil

A new paper in the Journal of the American Heart Association reports that many Brazilian citizens are not taking enough advantage of the health benefits of exercise. The analysis of data from the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health finds that in a sample of more than 10,500 adults (civil servants aged 35 to 74 free of cardiovascular diseases), only 21 percent of women and 29 percent of men were active in their leisure time by international standards. In the U.S., for comparison, more than 50 percent of people in 2014 were active by those standards, which call for 150 minutes of moderate weekly physical activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity.  READ MORE

Psychosocial Mediators of a Theory-Based Resistance Training Maintenance Intervention for Prediabetic Adults

This study published in Psychology & Health by David Williams, Associate Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences, and colleagues, examines psychosocial mediators of the effects of high vs. low-dose resistance training maintenance interventions among older, overweight, and pre-diabetic adults. read more