Grantee Institution: Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
Co-Principal Investigators: Sandy Slater, Ph.D. and Shannon N. Zenk, Ph.D.
Data set: athenahealth
Grant Period: 12/15/17 – 12/14/18
The goal of the study is to provide decision makers and advocates with rigorous scientific evidence about the impact that active living policies can have on improving body weight across the lifespan and in subgroups disproportionately impacted by obesity. Active living policies – specifically, zoning code reforms that facilitate pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods – have the potential to affect more people and over a longer period of time, relative to individual-level interventions. In this project, the researchers will use data from athenahealth as well as their own existing datasets. Policy data are available for 75% of the U.S. population and include information on provisions such as mixed use, street connectivity, and active and passive recreation. Covering the 48 contiguous states, environmental data include information on walkability and accessibility of parks and commercial fitness facilities. The researchers will use longitudinal and quasi-experimental research designs to examine the impact of active living policies and environments on BMI/obesity risk over time. In order to examine whether a causal relationship exists between active living policies and BMI, the researchers will use a difference-in-differences design using a two-way fixed effects regression model to exploit geographic variation in the timing of active living policy changes across communities in the U.S. Deliverables will include a project work plan and final narrative and financial reports. The researchers will also produce paper(s) suitable for publication and present findings at national research meetings and to other stakeholder audiences as appropriate, including policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels and other key stakeholders, as part of the deliverables for this grant.