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Your Environment. Your Health.

Obesity & the Built Environment

Improving Public Health Through Community Design


This conference will provide a forum to discuss and illustrate how different elements of the built environment contribute to obesity via access to food and physical activity, and how environmental health research and interventions can address this public health problem.

The built environment encompasses all of the buildings, spaces, and products created or modified by people. For example: buildings (housing, schools, workplaces); land use (industrial or residential); public resources (parks, museums); zoning regulations; transportation systems.



  • Develop research and practice agendas to examine the relationship between the built environment and obesity.
  • Enhance interagency coordination.
  • Inform elected officials
  • Partner researchers, planners, health care providers, developers, policy makers, and community and business leaders.
  • Highlight evidence-based strategies for intervention.


Cross-Cutting Themes

Consider built environment-obesity links at different levels and settings:

  • Families and communities (urban/suburban/rural residences)
  • Schools (children)
  • Work sites


Organizing Questions

  • Design: How do we develop, implement, and evaluate more walkable communities?
  • Policy: How do we create and assess incentives to encourage needed community and/or individual changes?
  • Communication/Education: How do we motivate more physical activity and determine its effectiveness?

Post Conference Information


Monday, May 24
10:00-12:00 Registration
  Opening Session(549KB)
12:00-12:05 Dr. Samuel Wilson, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
  Opening Remarks(932KB)  
12:05 – 12:15 Dr. Elias Zerhouni, Director, National Institutes of Health
12:15 – 12:35 Secretary Tommy Thompson, Department of Health and Human Services
  Chair: Dr. Allen Dearry, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
12:35 – 1:35 Federal Activities Addressing Environment and Obesity

Geoffrey Anderson, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Ms. Cindy Burbank, Federal Highway Administration
Supplementary Information(22KB)    
 Supplementary Information(48KB)    

Kate Coler, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Dr. Henry Falk, National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Presentation Slides

Mr. Peter Ashley, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Presentation Slides

Dr. Allen Spiegel, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Presentation Slides(112KB)    

  Keynote Speaker
1:35 – 2:05 Addressing the Environment to Reduce Obesity
Dr. James Hill, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
Presentation Slides(1MB)
Supplementary Information(25KB)
2:05 – 2:40 Afternoon Break
2:40 – 3:10 Epidemiology, Engineering, and Environments:
Designing Healthy Futures

Dr. J. Michael McGinnis, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Presentation Slides
3:10 – 3:40 Poverty and Obesity
Dr. Adam Drewnowski, University of Washington
Presentation Slides
Supplementary Information(39KB)  
Supplementary Information(176KB)  
3:40 – 4:10 A New Role For Social Marketing
Dr. Edward Maibach, National Cancer Institute
Presentation Slides(479KB)  
Supplementary Information(128KB)  
4:10 – 4:30 Fighters for Fitness-Fitness Fighters Video
Mr. Ian Ellis James
4:30 – 5:30 Physical Activity and Obesity Campaigns
Chair: Mr. Rich Killingsworth, Active Living by Design, UNC
Presentation Slides(138KB)  

Life Step Programs
Mr. Tim McDonald, General Motors
Presentation Slides

Get Kids in Action
Ms. Caryn Altman, Gatorade
Presentation Slides(303KB)  
Gatorade PSA(7MB)

Ms. Molly White, Nike
Presentation Slides(103KB)

Tuesday, May 25
7:00-8:00 AM Registration
  Plenary Sessions Remarks(368KB)
8:00-9:00 Plenary Session I: Schools and Children
Chair: Dr. Shobha Srinivasan, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Toxic Classrooms: Marketing to Children in Schools
Dr. Alex Molnar, Arizona State University
Presentation Slides
Supplementary Information(57KB)    

The School as a Contributing Factor to Adolescent Obesity
Dr. David F. Foulk, Florida State University
Presentation Slides(746KB)    
Supplementary Information(29KB)    

Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities:
Opportunities and Challenges for Improving School Food Environments

Dr. Robert Gottlieb, Occidental College
Presentation Slides(778KB)    
Supplementary Information(74KB)    

9:00-9:30 Open Discussion with Panel Members

Ms. Sherée Thaxton, NC Department of Health and Human Services

Mr. Tim Torma, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

9:30-10:00 Morning Break
10:00-11:30 Breakout Session I: State of the Science
11:30-12:00 Keynote Speaker

Addressing the Overweight/Obesity Epidemic:
The Role of the Environment
Dr. David Satcher
National Center for Primary Care, Morehouse School of Medicine

12:00-1:30PM Lunch (on your own)
1:30-2:30 Plenary Session II: Communities and Families
Chair: Dr. Andrew Dannenberg, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Community Design and Physical Activity: What do we know?
Dr. Susan Handy, University of California at Davis
Presentation Slides(589KB)    
Supplementary Information(42KB)    

Community Design and Individual Well Being: The Multiple Impacts of the Built Environment on Public Health
Dr. Lawrence D. Frank, University of British Columbia
Supplementary Information(1MB)    

Rethinking Community Planning and School Siting to Address the Obesity Epidemic
Ms. Marya Morris, American Planning Association
Presentation Slides
Supplementary Information(145KB)    

2:30-3:00 Open Discussion with Panel Members

Dr. Reid Ewing, University of Maryland

Ms. Megan Susman, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

3:00-3:30 Afternoon Break
3:30-5:00 Breakout Session II: Setting the Research Agenda
  Keynote Speaker
5:00-5:30  Addressing Health Disparities
Dr. Louis W. Sullivan
Morehouse School of Medicine
  Afternoon Exercise
6:00-7:00 Afternoon Exercise Program

Ms. Jacqueline Jackson, Department of Health and Human Services

Wednesday, May 26
7:00-7:30 AM Morning Exercise Program

Ms. Jacqueline Jackson, Department of Health and Human Services

8:00-9:00 Plenary Session III: Worksites, Employers and Employees
Chair: Mr. David Brown, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

The Financial Impact of Health Promotion and Risk Reduction Programs in the Workplace: Establishing a Business Case for Increased Investment in Employee Health and Well-Being
Dr. Ron Goetzel Cornell University and Medstat
Supplementary Information(1MB)    

Creating Workplace Environments to Combat Obesity
Dr. Michael O'Donnell, American Journal of Health Promotion, Inc.
Presentation Slides(167KB)    
Supplementary Information(30KB)    

Using Obesity-Specific Medical Claims Cost Analysis to Guide Obesity Prevention Strategies in the Worksite Environments
Dr. David Chenoweth,
Worksite Health Promotion, East Carolina Univ.
Presentation Slides(426KB)    
Supplementary Information(30KB)    

9:00-9:30 Open Discussion with Panel Members

Dr. James Sallis, San Diego State University

Dr. David McCarron, Academic Network

9:30-10:00 Morning Break
10:00-11:30 Breakout Session III: Developing Intervention Strategies
11:30-12:00 Synthesis and Discussion(1MB)    

Dr. Allen Dearry, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

12:00-12:30 Closing Remarks

Dr. Kenneth Olden, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences


Angela W. Sanders
Team Lead, DERT
Tel (919) 541-7846
Fax (919) 541-2843