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Am J Health Promot. 2018 Mar;32(3):779-794. doi: 10.1177/0890117117694448. Epub 2017 Mar 2.

Weight and Veterans' Environments Study (WAVES) I and II: Rationale, Methods, and Cohort Characteristics.

Author information

1 Department of Health Systems Science, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing, Chicago, IL, USA.
2 Center of Innovation for Complex Chronic Healthcare (CINCCH), Hines VA Hospital, Hines, IL, USA.
3 Health Policy and Administration Division, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, Chicago, IL, USA.
4 Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.
5 Indiana University-Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Bloomington, IN, USA.
6 Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Demography, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA.
7 Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA.
8 Department of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.



To present the rationale, methods, and cohort characteristics for 2 complementary "big data" studies of residential environment contributions to body weight, metabolic risk, and weight management program participation and effectiveness.


Retrospective cohort.


Continental United States.


A total of 3 261 115 veterans who received Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care in 2009 to 2014, including 169 910 weight management program participants and a propensity score-derived comparison group.


The VA MOVE! weight management program, an evidence-based lifestyle intervention.


Body mass index, metabolic risk measures, and MOVE! participation; residential environmental attributes (eg, food outlet availability and walkability); and MOVE! program characteristics.


Descriptive statistics presented on cohort characteristics and environments where they live.


Forty-four percent of men and 42.8% of women were obese, whereas 4.9% of men and 9.9% of women engaged in MOVE!. About half of the cohort had at least 1 supermarket within 1 mile of their home, whereas they averaged close to 4 convenience stores (3.6 for men, 3.9 for women) and 8 fast-food restaurants (7.9 for men, 8.2 for women). Forty-one percent of men and 38.6% of women did not have a park, and 35.5% of men and 31.3% of women did not have a commercial fitness facility within 1 mile.


Drawing on a large nationwide cohort residing in diverse environments, these studies are poised to significantly inform policy and weight management program design.


built environment; food environment; health status disparities; neighborhood; obesity; weight loss

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