Advancing science and policy through a coordinated international study of physical activity and built environments: IPEN adult methods

J Phys Act Health. 2013 May;10(4):581-601. doi: 10.1123/jpah.10.4.581. Epub 2012 Sep 11.


Background: National and international strategies to increase physical activity emphasize environmental and policy changes that can have widespread and long-lasting impact. Evidence from multiple countries using comparable methods is required to strengthen the evidence base for such initiatives. Because some environment and policy changes could have generalizable effects and others may depend on each country's context, only international studies using comparable methods can identify the relevant differences.

Methods: Currently 12 countries are participating in the International Physical Activity and the Environment Network (IPEN) study. The IPEN Adult study design involves recruiting adult participants from neighborhoods with wide variations in environmental walkability attributes and socioeconomic status (SES).

Results: Eleven of twelve countries are providing accelerometer data and 11 are providing GIS data. Current projections indicate that 14,119 participants will provide survey data on built environments and physical activity and 7145 are likely to provide objective data on both the independent and dependent variables. Though studies are highly comparable, some adaptations are required based on the local context. CONCLUSIONS: This study was designed to inform evidence-based international and country-specific physical activity policies and interventions to help prevent obesity and other chronic diseases that are high in developed countries and growing rapidly in developing countries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry
  • Adult
  • Environment Design*
  • Female
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Walking / statistics & numerical data