The May 2013 American Journal of Preventive Medicine featured a theme issue “Built Environment Assessment and Interventions for Obesity Prevention: Moving the Field Forward." The theme issue grew out of presentations and discussions at the 2013 BEAT Think Tank and the hard work of many of the participants. You can find a link to the pdfs here.
The Built Environment Assessment Training (BEAT) Institute was created to prepare and encourage investigators and practitioners to use observational and self-report measures of nutrition and activity environments and related behavioral assessments.
From 2008 to 2012, the BEAT Institute offered an annual week long training program in the summer to a total of 160 researchers and practitioners to teach them tangible skills that could be used to measure many of the aspects of the built environment believed to have an effect on health. In July 2013, the Institute sponsored a special BEAT Think Tank, convening experts from different disciplines, to focus on defining the state of the science and taking the BEAT Institute into the future.
The Institute hopes that researchers, professors and practitioners take advantage of the free online training course of the built environment to learn more about research-tested observational assessment tools and promote them to others.
The Institute of Medicine and other key organizations have identified environmental and policy changes as the most promising strategies for controlling obesity and improving diet and physical activity.
There are now a variety of measures that can be used by researchers and practitioners to plan and evaluate changes to the built environment. The built environment is considered the buildings, roads, utilities, homes, food stores, restaurants, fixtures, parks and all other man-made entities that form the physical characteristics of a community. The built environment includes nutrition and physical activity environments, streetscapes, transportation environments, and everything in between.
The BEAT Institute website and ongoing work is currently supported by the University of Pennsylvania Prevention Research Center.
From 2010-2015, the Institute was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, 2007-55215-17924 and 2010-85215-20659, with collaboration from the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Health Behavior Research, the Emory Prevention Research Center, the University of Washington Prevention Research Center, the University of San Diego and San Diego State University Prevention Research Center and the Harvard Prevention Research Center.