Crowdsourcing Novel Childhood Predictors of Adult Obesity

PloS One 9.2 (2014)

49 Pages Posted: 30 Jul 2014

See all articles by Kirsten Bevelander

Kirsten Bevelander

University of Amsterdam - Department of Persuasive Communication

Kirsikka Kaipainen

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

Robert Swain

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

Simone Dohle

ETH Zürich

Josh Bongard

University of Vermont - Department of Computer Science

Paul Hines

University of Vermont - College of Engineering and Mathematics

Brian Wansink

Retired

Date Written: December 12, 2013

Abstract

Effective and simple screening tools are needed to detect behaviors that are established early in life and have a significant influence on weight gain later in life. Crowdsourcing could be a novel and potentially useful tool to assess childhood predictors of adult obesity. This exploratory study examined whether crowdsourcing could generate well-documented predictors in obesity research and, moreover, whether new directions for future research could be uncovered. Participants were recruited through social media to a question-generation website, on which they answered questions and were able to pose new questions that they thought could predict obesity. During the two weeks of data collection, 532 participants (62% female; age = 26.5 ± 6.7; BMI = 29.0 ± 7.0) registered on the website and suggested a total of 56 unique questions. Nineteen of these questions correlated with body mass index (BMI) and covered several themes identified by prior research, such as parenting styles and healthy lifestyle. More importantly, participants were able to identify potential determinants that were related to a lower BMI, but have not been the subject of extensive research, such as parents packing their children’s lunch to school or talking to them about nutrition. The findings indicate that crowdsourcing can reproduce already existing hypotheses and also generate ideas that are less well documented. The crowdsourced predictors discovered in this study emphasize the importance of family interventions to fight obesity. The questions generated by participants also suggest new operationalizations of known predictors.

Suggested Citation

Bevelander, Kirsten and Kaipainen, Kirsikka and Swain, Robert and Dohle, Simone and Bongard, Josh and Hines, Paul and Wansink, Brian, Crowdsourcing Novel Childhood Predictors of Adult Obesity (December 12, 2013). PloS One 9.2 (2014), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2473785

Kirsten Bevelander

University of Amsterdam - Department of Persuasive Communication ( email )

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Kirsikka Kaipainen

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland ( email )

Tampere
Finland

Robert Swain

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland ( email )

FIN-02044 VTT
Finland

Simone Dohle

ETH Zürich ( email )

Universitatsstrasse 22
CHN H75.3
Zürich, 8092
Switzerland

Josh Bongard

University of Vermont - Department of Computer Science ( email )

212 Kalkin Hall
Burlington, VT 05405-0158
United States
(802) 656-4665 (Phone)
(802) 656-0696 (Fax)

Paul Hines

University of Vermont - College of Engineering and Mathematics ( email )

United States

Brian Wansink (Contact Author)

Retired ( email )

607-319-0123 (Phone)

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