Monday, July 13, 2009

Practical Research Problems

One area of my research studies how much physical activity people perform and how those factors might be related to the physical environment in their neighborhoods. One of the "gold standard" methods to complete this kind of data collection is to use accelerometers to measure how much physical activity people do during the day. There are obviously problems, people forget to wear them, or they occasionally malfunction, but overall you expect pretty reliable physical measurements from them. One particularly innovative intervention is to use an automated text-messaging system to remind kids to be active based on their accelerometer readings.

Proving that you can take nothing for granted in research, there is one way that several industrious kids (in a different, London-based study) figured out how to get around the read-outs of the accelerometers, attach them to their dogs!:

The Health Blog was impressed by the cleverness of some 11- and 12-year-old obese children in east London, who were participating in an exercise research study.

The kids were supposed to be wearing pedometers to measure the number of steps they were taking each day. But some of those in the study got the bright idea to clip the pedometers to the collars of their pet dogs, upping the distance the youngsters appeared to be moving each day, according to the BBC. (WSJ Health Blog)

I've got to hand it to those kids, that's a pretty smart idea.


E. said...

Finally! A proven correlation between porky-ness and intelligence.

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