Exploring associations between children's obesogenic behaviours and local environment using big data.

Filos D, Lekka I, Kilintzis V, Stefanopoulos L, Karavidopoulou Y, Maramis C, Diou C, Sarafis I, Papapanagiotou V, Alagialoglou L, Ioakeimidis I, Hassapidou M, Charmandari E, Heimeier R, O'Donnell S, Doyle G, Delopoulos A, Maglaveras N

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth - (-) - [2021-03-19; online 2021-03-19]

Obesity is a major public health problem globally and in Europe, while the prevalence of childhood obesity is also soaring. Several parameters of the living environment are contributing to this increase, such as the density of fast-food retailers, and thus, preventive health policies against childhood obesity must focus on the environment to which children are exposed. Currently, there are no systems to objectively measure the effect of living environment parameters on obesogenic behaviours and obesity. The H2020 project "BigO: Big Data Against Childhood Obesity" (http://bigoprogram.eu) aims to tackle childhood obesity by creating new sources of evidence based on big data. This paper introduces the Obesity Prevention dashboard (OPdashboard), implemented in the context of BigO, which offers an interactive data exploration of objective obesity related behaviours and local environment based on the data recorded using the BigO mHealth app. OPdashboard allows for (i) the real time monitoring of children's obesogenic behaviours in a city area, (ii) the extraction of associations between them and the local environment and, (iii) the evaluation of an intervention in time. More than 3700 children, from 33 schools and 2 clinics, in 5 European cities have been monitored using a custom-made mobile application for the extraction of behavioural patterns through the capturing of accelerometer and geolocation data, while online databases were assessed in order to have a description of the environment. The preliminary association outcomes in two European cities, namely Thessaloniki in Greece and Stockholm in Sweden, indicate a correlation between children's eating and physical activity behaviours and the availability of food related places or sport facilities close to schools. In addition, OPdashboard was used to assess the modification of children's physical activity as the result of the health policies applied for the deceleration of the COVID-19 outbreak. The preliminary outcomes of the analysis revealed that in urban areas the decrease on physical activity was statistically significant, while in the suburbs a slight increase was observed. Those findings suggest the importance of the availability of open spaces on children's behavioural change. The above analyses act as initial investigations using the OPdashboard. Additional factors must be incorporated in order to optimize its use and have a clearer understanding of the results. The paper describes in detail the OPdashboard which is exposed as a web interface (http://bigo.med.auth.gr:3838/). Its functionality was evaluated during a focus group with experts on public health, where its potential on the better understanding of the interplay between children's obesogenic behaviours and the environment was underlined.

Category: Social Science & Humanities

Type: Journal article

PubMed 34048353

DOI 10.2196/26290

Crossref 10.2196/26290

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