Dr. Neng Wan leads new NIH-funded project on physical activities among Pacific Islanders in the US
Dr. Neng Wan is principal investigator of a new project funded by the National Institutes of Health titled “Using Momentary Measures to Understand Physical Activity Adoption and Maintenance among Pacific Islanders in the United States”. Geography faculty Dr. Simon Brewer and faculty in Nutrition and Integrative Physiology, Health and Kinesiology, Computing, and Population Health Sciences are co-investigators on the project. Pacific Islanders in the United States suffer from disparities in a variety of health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer at several sites, all are related with lack of physical activity (PA). However, works on promoting PA among Pacific Islanders are severely hampered by lack of understanding on what/how different factors could help increase their PA level. This five-year study will use emerging mobile technologies to examine how neighborhood environments and personal factors impact PA adoption and maintenance among Pacific Islander adults in Utah. The use of smartphones, on-body sensors, as well as real-time surveys will allow us to continuously monitor participants’ physical activity behavior, exposure to neighborhood factors (e.g., crime/safety, green space), and change of psychosocial factors (e.g., stress level, social support) across an extended period. The study will help us understand the mechanisms underlying PA behavioral change for this fast-growing yet severely understudied population group, and will provide critical information on how to address their PA-related health problems. The methodology and findings derived from this study will also provide a new perspective in understanding PA behavior of other racial/ethnic groups with similar health disparities.