Bremen Colloquium Epidemiology - Public Health

Dr. Seraphim Alvanides, Northumbria University (Newcastle, UK) 

Environmental determinants of obesity: understanding and measuring the obesogenic environment in England and in Germany

December 16th, 2013, 15:00, BIPS, Room 1550

There is a growing body of research that highlights the influence of environmental characteristics on health. However, objective assessments of the obesogenic environment remain scarce.

After a short overview on the potential impact of social (e.g. socioeconomic status of the district, social cohesion, safety) and physical environment (e.g. built environment, greenness, aesthetics) on our weight and physical activity, I will present a geographical approach to investigate this relationship, focusing on three topics.

First, a short introduction on the obesity system map (Foresight, 2007) highlighting enablers and barriers in relation to the energy balance of individuals and societies. The seminar will focus on the geographical aspects of the Foresight report, such as food production/supply and the built environment, recreation and sport. I will discuss how potential determinants of obesity that are related to living conditions have been operationalized as geographical measures in the relevant literature.

Secondly, I will present examples from my own published work on obesogenic environments, and suggest advanced geographical methods for capturing daily physical activity data from ongoing work in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Finally, I will draw links between geographical advances in the UK and similar methods being developed in relation to health surveys in Germany, focusing in Leipzig.

The presentation will conclude by cautioning on the limitations of current technologies and techniques to capture and analyse the geographical complexity of people's daily activities and lives.