Inferring the Spatial Distribution of Physical Activity in Children Population from Characteristics of the Environment

05/08/2020
by   Ioannis Sarafis, et al.
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Obesity affects a rising percentage of the children and adolescent population, contributing to decreased quality of life and increased risk for comorbidities. Although the major causes of obesity are known, the obesogenic behaviors manifest as a result of complex interactions of the individual with the living environment. For this reason, addressing childhood obesity remains a challenging problem for public health authorities. The BigO project (https://bigoprogram.eu) relies on large-scale behavioral and environmental data collection to create tools that support policy making and intervention design. In this work, we propose a novel analysis approach for modeling the expected population behavior as a function of the local environment. We experimentally evaluate this approach in predicting the expected physical activity level in small geographic regions using urban environment characteristics. Experiments on data collected from 156 children and adolescents verify the potential of the proposed approach. Specifically, we train models that predict the physical activity level in a region, achieving 81 automatically visualize heatmaps of the expected population behavior in areas of interest, from which we draw useful insights. Overall, the predictive models and the automatic heatmaps are promising tools in gaining direct perception for the spatial distribution of the population's behavior, with potential uses by public health authorities.

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