Online Program

Reviewing the utilization of mobile technologies to survey childhood obesity

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 1:30 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.

Mary Christoph, BS, MPH, Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL
Background: Childhood overweight and obesity is a serious health issue impacting about one third of American children and adolescents, and about 10% of children worldwide. The US has traditionally used measures such as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to track weight status and risk for chronic diseases. While these surveys endeavor to be representative, they require significant time and money, and do not capture the majority of the population. This study therefore reviewed novel surveillance ideas to observe a greater proportion of the population, and discover targets for intervention. Methods: PubMed, Google Scholar, and were searched for articles involving novel surveillance methods, including mobile phones, web-based surveys, and applications. Hits involving infectious diseases were excluded. Results: The World Health Organization (WHO) has prioritized m-Health, or health surveillance using mobile technologies, for the surveillance of chronic disease, but programs have not yet been implemented widely. Magpi, formerly known as EpiSurveyor, is one of the largest platforms for collecting health data in developing countries, particularly Africa, and is currently used by the WHO. However, it is unclear how much data is disseminated, and how this and other mobile health trackers can be adopted by larger audiences. Privacy is a major concern for implementing more wide-scale surveillance measures. Conclusions: While mobile phones and web-based surveys show promise for increasing use in epidemiological surveillance, privacy and adoption measures must first be addressed. Mobile technologies can revolutionize surveillance, and should be further pilot-tested and evaluated in order to ensure best practices.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Communication and informatics

Learning Objectives:
Assess the different platforms currently in use to survey childhood obesity, in order to develop best practices for better surveillance systems and enable the targeting of risk factors.

Keyword(s): Obesity, Surveillance

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a 2nd year PhD student and fellow in the Illinois Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Program. I am the recipient of a grant involving the study of information systems in Uganda, and presented my work on health information systems and using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map the food environment at national and international conferences. I am interested in utilizing mobile technologies to improve health outcomes.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.