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01.12.2015 | Software | Ausgabe 1/2016 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2016

An online tool for obesity intervention and public health

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2016
Jason G. Su
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The author declares that he has no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

JGS collected the data needed for building the online tool, developed the software and drafted the manuscript.



Though the United States of America (U.S.A.) obesity rate shows signs of leveling off, rates remain high. Poor nutrition contributes to the development of obesity, and physical inactivity is an important cause of numerous diseases and directly linked to obesity. Efforts to improve diet, increase physical activity and pursue other behavioral changes seem imperative. However, the effective management of intervention strategies for large number of participants are challenging because services in primary, secondary, and tertiary cares are often under-resourced, relatively uncoordinated with other parts of the health system. It is thus necessary to have accompanying intervention strategies that can be carried out at population level. In this paper, we describe an online intervention tool designed for the Obesity Prevention Tailored for Health II project to help achieve such goals.


The first part of the online tool locates healthy food stores and recreational programs within a specified distance of a participant’s home or a place of interest. The food environments include fruit & vegetable stores, farmers’ markets and grocery stores, and the companying popup window shows the street address and contact information of each store. The parks and recreational programs are displayed on names of park or recreational program, types of program available, and city each amenity belongs to. The tool also provides spatial coverage of vegetation greenness, air pollution and of historical traffic accidents involving active travel.
The second part of the tool provides optimized travel options for reaching various amenities. By incorporating bicycling, walking and public transit into the trip planner, this online tool helps increase active transport and reduce dependence on automobiles. It promotes transportation that encourages safety awareness, physical activity, health, recreation, and resource conservation.


We developed the first Google-based online intervention tool that assists obese and overweight participants in finding food and recreational amenities around locations of interest and identifying optimized routes that fit their personal preferences. This tool can also serve general public and policy makers for education, disease prevention and health promotion.
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