142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Integrating GIS and Modeling methods to enhance community & school childhood obesity interventions

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Monday, November 17, 2014 : 1:30 PM - 1:50 PM

Liora Sahar, PhD, GISP , Statistics and Evaluation center, Intramural Research, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA
Jay V. Schindler, MPH PhD , Information Systems / Public Health Operating Unit, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Atlanta, GA
Joseph Bauer, Ph.D , Statistics & Evaluation Center (SEC), intramural Research, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA
Introduction: Obesity is at epidemic proportions in our nation, and obesity among children has long ranging consequences.  A realistic, agent-based simulation, using predictive models, can improve understanding of such public health problems and explore the possible outcome of various interventions

Approach: We develop a dynamic framework that integrates geospatial technologies with Agent Based Modeling (ABM) to enable exploration of complex public health problems (here, the nutrition of adolescents) and the possible effects of specific interventions.   Such modeling methods support better decision making and enhances public policies.  

Results: We generated a model that simulates children walking/riding to and from school along optimal routes.  The model incorporates geospatial layers (streets, homes, corner stores locations) as well as child food consumption behaviors as they encounter corner stores. Within the ABM framework, children make decisions every time they interact with other agents, including peers and corner stores.   Our model identifies the location of corner stores have a significant impact on consumption of empty calories and the overall nutritional health of adolescents. We examine simulating the impact of providing a healthy snack at the end of the school day and compare results of empty calorie consumption before and after this intervention. 

Discussion /Conclusions  The integration of GIS and ABM technologies provides an opportunity to examine nutritional behaviors within a changing social and physical environment, and the impact of school or community policies over time in a cost-effective manner.  We will also discuss the ABM framework, its strengths and limitations, and research recommendations.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related public policy
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
List 2 major benefits and 2 challenges associated with integrating Geospatial Information Systems and Agent Based Modeling for public health policy decision-makers. Explain 2 concrete recommendations for developing a GIS ABM integrated research environment. List both behavioral and environmental influencing factors (and modeling terms) that affect the nutritional health of children as they walk to school.

Keyword(s): Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Built Environment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the leading or collaborating on research and projects related to GIS and modeling in industry, academia and the federal government. Among my interests has been developing strategies that integrate GIS (and the food/built environment) for evaluating interventions related to childhood obesity
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.