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Research

Estimating the Effect of Mobility and Food Choice on Obesity

Principal Investigators: Jane Kolodinsky, Brian Lee
Funding Agency: US DOT

Project Summary

This research will estimate the size and significance of individual mobility and food pattern choices on energy balance while accounting for both seasonality and individual perceptions of the navigability of the built environment in northern rural climates. Extensive bodies of research have examined relationships between energy balance and food patterns, the built environment and food choices However these diverse areas of study have never been addressed using a unified, transdisciplinary approach, nor has the role of perceptions of the navigability of the built environment by season been examined. This project will build upon a panel data set of 650 individuals residing in the Northeastern United States. The data set includes both time constant and time (seasonal) variant variables, as well as an individual travel diary. The proposed project will add geo-spatial built environment and actual weather data layers to these data. The combined panel data set will be used to estimate energy balance, accounting for individual perceptions of the built environment. Food choice and mobility have proved difficult to change using information alone. Changing perceptions may offer an alternate path to behavior change. The model will account for the influence of seasonal variation and actual geo-spatial characteristics, while controlling for demographic characteristics. New information can lead to recommendations for individual and policy level changes that promote energy balance and healthy weights.