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Weight and Veterans' Environments Study (WAVES) I and II: Rationale, Methods, and Cohort Characteristics.

Zenk SN, Tarlov E, Powell LM, Wing C, Matthews SA, Slater S, Gordon HS, Berbaum M, Fitzgibbon ML. Weight and Veterans' Environments Study (WAVES) I and II: Rationale, Methods, and Cohort Characteristics. American Journal of Health Promotion : AJHP. 2018 Mar 1; 32(3):779-794.

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PURPOSE: To present the rationale, methods, and cohort characteristics for 2 complementary "big data" studies of residential environment contributions to body weight, metabolic risk, and weight management program participation and effectiveness. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort. SETTING: Continental United States. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 3 261 115 veterans who received Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care in 2009 to 2014, including 169 910 weight management program participants and a propensity score-derived comparison group. INTERVENTION: The VA MOVE! weight management program, an evidence-based lifestyle intervention. MEASURES: Body mass index, metabolic risk measures, and MOVE! participation; residential environmental attributes (eg, food outlet availability and walkability); and MOVE! program characteristics. ANALYSIS: Descriptive statistics presented on cohort characteristics and environments where they live. RESULTS: Forty-four percent of men and 42.8% of women were obese, whereas 4.9% of men and 9.9% of women engaged in MOVE!. About half of the cohort had at least 1 supermarket within 1 mile of their home, whereas they averaged close to 4 convenience stores (3.6 for men, 3.9 for women) and 8 fast-food restaurants (7.9 for men, 8.2 for women). Forty-one percent of men and 38.6% of women did not have a park, and 35.5% of men and 31.3% of women did not have a commercial fitness facility within 1 mile. CONCLUSION: Drawing on a large nationwide cohort residing in diverse environments, these studies are poised to significantly inform policy and weight management program design.

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