Impact of Built Environments on Body Weight (the Moving to Health Study): Protocol for a Retrospective Longitudinal Observational Study

JMIR Res Protoc. 2020 May 19;9(5):e16787. doi: 10.2196/16787.


Background: Studies assessing the impact of built environments on body weight are often limited by modest power to detect residential effects that are small for individuals but may nonetheless comprise large attributable risks.

Objective: We used data extracted from electronic health records to construct a large retrospective cohort of patients. This cohort will be used to explore both the impact of moving between environments and the long-term impact of changing neighborhood environments.

Methods: We identified members with at least 12 months of Kaiser Permanente Washington (KPWA) membership and at least one weight measurement in their records during a period between January 2005 and April 2017 in which they lived in King County, Washington. Information on member demographics, address history, diagnoses, and clinical visits data (including weight) was extracted. This paper describes the characteristics of the adult (aged 18-89 years) cohort constructed from these data.

Results: We identified 229,755 adults representing nearly 1.2 million person-years of follow-up. The mean age at baseline was 45 years, and 58.0% (133,326/229,755) were female. Nearly one-fourth of people (55,150/229,755) moved within King County at least once during the follow-up, representing 84,698 total moves. Members tended to move to new neighborhoods matching their origin neighborhoods on residential density and property values.

Conclusions: Data were available in the KPWA database to construct a very large cohort based in King County, Washington. Future analyses will directly examine associations between neighborhood conditions and longitudinal changes in body weight and diabetes as well as other health conditions.

International registered report identifier (irrid): DERR1-10.2196/16787.

Keywords: Washington; built environment; electronic health records; geography; longitudinal studies; obesity.