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NHLBI Obesity Research

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Improved Measures of Diet and Physical Activity Program Genes, Environment, and Health Initiative (GEI)

The Genes, Environment, and Health Initiative (GEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was a four-year, NIH-wide initiative with projects led by several institutes. The overarching goal of the GEI was to determine the etiology of common diseases by focusing on the interaction of genetic and environmental factors to better understand how these interactions contribute to health and disease.

The GEI was an investment in genetic studies and environmental monitoring technologies. The genetic component was focused on genome-wide association studies and data analytic methods. The exposure biology component was focused on stimulating the development of innovative wearable sensors to measure environmental exposures such as toxins and toxicants, diet, physical activity, psychosocial stress, and addictive substances that contribute to the development of disease.

One program within the exposure biology component focused on improved measures of diet and physical activity. This program funded 7 studies to apply technological advances in other fields to the assessment of diet and physical activity to develop devices or methods which are reliable and valid, have low respondent burden, and are economically feasible for use in studies of free-living, diverse populations. The program was led by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) from August 2007 to August 2011

Key Publications

Studies and Selected Publications

  • Mobile Food Intake Visualization and Voice Recognizer (FIVR)
  • Food Intake Recording Software System, version 4 (FIRSSt4)
  • Improving Dietary Assessment Methods Using the Cell Phone and Digital Imaging
    • Carol Boushey, MPH PhD RD, University of Hawaii Cancer Center
    • http://www.tadaproject.org/external disclaimer
    • Schapp TE, et al. Merging dietary assessment with the adolescent lifestyle. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2013 March. doi:10.1111.jhn.12071. [Epub ahead of print] www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=23489518
    • Kerr DA, et al. Connecting Health and Technology (CHAT): protocol of a randomized controlled trial to improve nutrition behaviors using mobile devices and tailored text messaging in young adults. BMC Public Health. 2012 June;(12): 477. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22726532

  • Development of an Integrated Measurement System to Assess Physical Activity
    • Patty Freedson, MS PhD, University of Massachusetts/Amherst
    • Mo L, et al. Zigbee-based wireless multi-sensor system for physical activity assessment.Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Sci. 2011: 846-849. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=22254443

  • Enabling Population-Scale Physical Activity Measurement on Common Mobile Phones
  • A Tool for Geospatial Analysis of Physical Activity: Physical Activity Location Measurement System (PALMS)
    • Kevin Patrick, MD MS, University of California San Diego
    • Ucsd-palms-project.wikispaces.com/Home
    • Kerr J, Norman G, Godbole S, et al. Validating GPS Data With The PALMS System to Detect Different Active Transportation Modes. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2012; 44(5Suppl): S2529.


  • A Unified Sensor System for Ubiquitous Assessment of Diet and Physical Activity
    • Mingui Sun, PhD, University of Pittsburgh
    • Sun M, et al. A wearable electronic system for objective dietary assessment. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 January;110(1): 45. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2009.10.013 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/?term=2813220



Last Updated July 2014





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