Developing Apps for Population Health Research | APRIL 17 | 2019

9am – 10am pacific | 12 noon – 1pm eastern | 1:30pm – 2:30pm NFLD



Advances in technology, including mobile apps, have provided researchers with new ways to collect data. Health researchers are increasingly interested in developing and using mobile apps for research data collection. However, many challenges exist for health researchers when developing mobile apps. The purpose of this webinar is provide an overview of results of a report interviewing 8 researchers who have developed mobile apps. We will also provide recommendations for researchers who are planning to develop a health research apps.


Melissa Tobin is a Master of Science in Kinesiology student at Memorial University and an INTERACT Trainee. She is a graduate of the Bachelor of Kinesiology Honours (Co-op) Degree from Memorial University. Melissa’s master’s research will focus on how exposure to active transportation infrastructure influences physical activity levels. Melissa is very passionate about increasing physical activity levels for all members of our community.


Daniel Fuller is Canada Research Chair in Population Physical Activity in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation at Memorial University. His research is focused on using wearable technologies to study physical activity, transportation interventions, and equity in urban spaces. He focuses his methodological work on methods for natural experiments, and machine learning.






March 18 | 2019

Vegetation diversity protects against childhood asthma: results from a large New Zealand birth cohort.

Donovan GH, Gatziolis D, Longley I, Douwes J.

Nat Plants. 2018 Jun;4(6):358-364. DOI: 10.1038/s41477-018-0151-8


We assessed the association between the natural environment and asthma in 49,956 New Zealand children born in 1998 and followed up until 2016 using routinely collected data. Children who lived in greener areas, as measured by the normalized difference vegetation index, were less likely to be asthmatic: a 1 s.d. increase in normalized difference vegetation index was associated with a 6.0% (95% CI 1.9–9.9%) lower risk of asthma. Vegetation diversity was also protective: a 1 s.d. increase in the number of natural land-cover types in a child’s residential meshblock was associated with a 6.7% (95% CI 1.5–11.5%) lower risk. However, not all land-cover types were protective. A 1 s.d. increase in the area covered by gorse (Ulex europaeus) or exotic conifers, both non-native, low-biodiversity land-cover types, was associated with a 3.2% (95% CI 0.0–6.0%) and 4.2% (95% CI 0.9–7.5%) increased risk of asthma, respectively. The results suggest that exposure to greenness and vegetation diversity may be protective of asthma.

March 11 | 2019

Geospatial analyses of adverse birth outcomes in Southwestern Ontario: Examining the impact of environmental factors.

Jamie A. Seabrook, Alexandra Smith, Andrew F. Clark, Jason A. Gilliland

Environmental Research Volume 172, May 2019, Pages 18-26




A growing body of research has examined the association between exposure to environmental factors during pregnancy and adverse birth outcomes; however, many studies do not control for potential covariates and findings vary considerably.


To test the relative influence of environmental factors including exposure to air pollution, major roads, highways, industry, parks, greenspaces, and food retailers on low birth weight (LBW) and preterm birth (PTB) in Southwestern Ontario (SWO), Canada, while accounting for medical (e.g., previous preterm birth, gestational diabetes), behavioral (e.g., alcohol, smoking), demographic (e.g., maternal age, body mass index), and neighborhood-level socioeconomic (e.g., household income, education) factors.


This retrospective cohort study consisted of a large sample of pregnant women from SWO who gave birth to singleton newborns between February 2009 and February 2014 at London Health Sciences Centre. Data on maternal postal codes were entered into a Geographic Information System to map the distribution of maternal residences and determine selected characteristics of their neighborhood environments (i.e., socioeconomic, built, natural). These variables were developed based on postal codes where the mothers lived prior to giving birth. Logistic regression was used to assess the relative effects of the physical environment, socioeconomic status, clinical history, and behavioral risk factors on mothers having a LBW or PTB infant.


Out of 25,263 live births, 5.7% were LBW and 7.5% were PTB. Exposure to sulfur dioxide was a top predictor of both LBW and PTB. For every one-unit increase in sulfur dioxide, the odds of a LBW and PTB were 3.4 (95% CI: 2.2, 5.2) and 2.0 (95% CI: 1.4, 3.0) times higher, after controlling for other variables in the model, respectively (p < 0.001). Previous PTB was also highly associated with both birth outcomes.


Health care providers should be informed about the hazards of air pollution to developing fetuses so that recommendations can be made to their pregnant patients about limiting exposure when air quality is poor.

March 4 | 2019

The Lancet Commissions

The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change: The Lancet Commission report.

Prof Boyd A Swinburn MD, Vivica I Kraak PhD, Prof Steven Allender PhD, Vincent J Atkins, Phillip I Baker PhD, Jessica R Bogard PhD, Hannah Brinsden,  Alejandro Calvillo, Prof Olivier De Schutter PhD, Raji Devarajank, Prof Majid Ezzat FMedSci,  Prof Sharon Friel PhD, Shifalika Goenka PhD,  Ross A Hammond PhD, Prof Gerard  Hastings PhD, Prof Corinna Hawkes PhD, Mario Herrero PhD, Prof Peter S Hovmand PhD, …Prof William H Dietz MD.

The Lancet Volume 393, Issue 10173, 23 February–1 March 2019, Pages 791-846

Executive summary

Malnutrition in all its forms, including obesity, undernutrition, and other dietary risks, is the leading cause of poor health globally. In the near future, the health effects of climate change will considerably compound these health challenges. Climate change can be considered a pandemic because of its sweeping effects on the health of humans and the natural systems we depend on (ie, planetary health). These three pandemics—obesity, undernutrition, and climate change—represent The Global Syndemic that affects most people in every country and region worldwide. They constitute a syndemic, or synergy of epidemics, because they co-occur in time and place, interact with each other to produce complex sequelae, and share common underlying societal drivers. This Commission recommends comprehensive actions to address obesity within the context of The Global Syndemic, which represents the paramount health challenge for humans, the environment, and our planet in the 21st century.