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Am J Community Psychol. 2009 Dec;44(3-4):338-49. doi: 10.1007/s10464-009-9269-1.

Examining the etiology of childhood obesity: The IDEA study.

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  • 1Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, 1300 South Second Street, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55454-1054, USA.


The prevalence of childhood obesity is of great public health concern. A social ecological framework that is transdisciplinary and multilevel by nature is recognized as the most promising approach for studying this problem. The purpose of this paper is to describe longitudinal research using a social ecological framework to study the etiology of childhood obesity. Individual and contextual factors are assessed in a cohort of youth and their parents including psychosocial factors, and home, school and neighborhood environments. The conceptual model guiding the research and the study design and measures used to operationalize the factors in the model and the descriptive characteristics of the baseline sample of youth and parents enrolled in the research are presented. The use of a conceptual model to guide the research, a transdisciplinary approach, a longitudinal cohort design and state-of-the-art measures of the individual and the environment are strengths of this research.

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