San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
25.857.1 - 25.857.11
The Impact of the Built Environment on Obesity in Low Income Communities By Dr. Fouad H. Fouad, Dr. Virginia Sisiopiku, Ms. Sarah S. Bettinger, Dr. Monica Baskin, Dr. Isabel Scarinci, Dr. Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, and Dr. Mona Fouad The University of Alabama at BirminghamAbstract:The role that the built environment plays on the health of a population is an area ofstudy that continues to gain support and understanding. Some of these factors areintuitive and well-known; the access to fresh, affordable, and high-quality food haslong been understood as a contributing factor to the health and well being of thepopulation. However, less well understood is the role that civil engineering factors,either those intentionally put into place to improve the quality of life incommunities, or those that have an accidental impact on the population, have on thehealth of the community. For example, it has been recognized that the waycommunities are designed is inextricably linked to the amount of physical activity thatlocal residents engage in and their overall quality of life. Recent studies also show a clearnegative correlation between bicycling and walking levels and levels of obesity and highThese factors related to the built environment play an important, but sometimesblood pressure in the U.S.overlooked, role in the overall health of our communities and our populations.Specifically, civil engineering factors relating to transportation, infrastructure, andland use may have direct and measurable effects of the health and well being ofpopulations.Research was conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham using amultidisciplinary approach to identifying the factors that contribute to increasedrates of obesity in populations in specific communities. In conjunction with severalother academic departments, our objective was to identify civil engineering factorsthat might negatively impact the rates of obesity in the populations of two particularlow income communities, Fairfield, Alabama and Forestdale, Alabama. Specifically,we were interested in gathering data only from existing sources and from personalinterviews with members of the communities under review. In addition toidentifying the contributing engineering factors, collecting relevant data, anddeveloping survey questions, we wanted to develop an exportable approach togathering this data for other communities around the country.To reach our specific research objectives, the civil engineering factors that might beshown to have a negative impact on obesity rates were first identified. Next, publicand existing sources of data pertaining to those factors were identified for each ofthe two communities under review. The governments of the two communities werecontacted, as well as county sources of data for both communities. Data that existedfor each factor for both communities were compiled and compared. For the twocommunities specifically under review for this project, there were only a fewengineering factors for which data for both neighborhoods could be found. For thisreason, and since the ultimate goal was to develop a methodology that could beexported to other communities around the country, additional sources of data thatwere not available for these two target communities were also identified andcompiled. Information that was not available through public records wasinvestigated through a survey that was prepared by the entire research team andadministered to residents of the two communities. Once the survey results are in,the obesity rates and relevant engineering factor data for the two targetcommunities will be compared to draw conclusions about the influence the studiedengineering factors might have on obesity.
Fouad, F. H., & Bettinger, S. S., & Sisiopiku, V., & Scarinci, I. C., & Fouad, M. N. (2012, June), Investigation into the Impact of the Built Environment on Obesity in Two Communities Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21614
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