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Behavior Technology Laboratory: Eating Disorders and Obesity Laboratory

FACULTY

  • Tiffany Stewart, Ph.D.

RESEARCH FOCUS

The Behavior Technology Laboratory is dedicated to Translational Research: taking health behavior change programs and technologies from bench (science) to bedside (programs everyone can utilize). The mission of the Behavior Technology Laboratory is to investigate the novel assessment, prevention, and intervention approaches for eating disorders, obesity, and body image disturbance on health behaviors and chronic disease outcomes.

ABOUT THIS LAB

With the dawn of new e-health technologies and population health research models to reach populations who don’t have access to or who are unable to participate in clinical programs and/or specialized healthcare, the Behavior Technology Lab’s work over the years has been focused on developing and testing community-based programs and technology based health tools in order to disseminate prevention and treatment efforts to large populations.

Highlighted projects include:

Weight Measurements and Standards for Soldiers. As a part of the Weight Measurements and Standards for Soldiers Project, the Healthy Eating, Activity, and Lifestyle Training Headquarters (H.E.A.L.T.H.)  program was developed at PBRC and represents an ongoing, fifteen-year  collaborative effort between PBRC and the Department of Defense. The H.E.A.L.T.H.. program is designed to aid Soldiers in maintaining healthy  weight status, fitness status, combat readiness, and Warfighter  performance. H.E.A.L.T.H. also includes programming to aid Soldiers’ family members in reaching overall health and fitness goals. H.E.A.L.T.H.  incorporates cutting edge interactive technology and is portable (e.g.  Internet, Smartphone) so Soldiers and their family members can use it wherever they are in the world. H.E.A.L.T.H. is considered a population health program, has been deployed and tested in two pilot projects (Ft. Bragg, NC, and New England Reserves), and is being tested in the Louisiana Army National Guard (LANG). As a result of this development and testing, the H.E.A.L.T.H. program is currently being disseminated Army-wide as part of the U.S. Army Surgeon General’s Performance Triad Initiative to improve nutrition, fitness, sleep, overall health, and resilience for our technologically advanced fighting force and their families. To date, approximately 15,000 individuals have used the H.E.A.L.T.H. program.

The Female Athlete Body (FAB) Program. Given the cost of treating eating disorders (EDs) and the substantial morbidity and mortality associated with these disorders, prevention of EDs has considerable public health significance. Research supports the use of a program targeting small lifestyle modifications in the prevention of ED onset and in reducing ED and obesity risk factors. Research suggests that disordered eating among female athletes is prevalent, and is especially dangerous in female athletes because it increases risk for the Female Athlete Triad (i.e., low energy availability/disordered eating, menstrual disorders, and decreased bone mineral density/ osteoporosis) and subsequent injury. This study is a cluster randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of the FAB program among 500 collegiate female athletes across four university sites.

Body Evolution Technologies (BE). BE is a company formed to commercialize evidence-based health behavior technology and is an entrepreneurial venture (formed as a result of scientific discovery at PBRC) funded by angel and venture capital investors. BE adapts evidence-based offline approaches into online/digital experiences, i.e. learning programs including interactive, digital media applications, and  health e-games (e.g. Internet, Smartphone, ipad apps) that address a wide  range of health behaviors including body image, eating disorders, and  weight management. The programs and assessment tools are integrated within a social network environment to reinforce learning and promote adherence.  These programs reside on http://www.emergebodyimage.com/, an e-health, online platform.

Research in this laboratory is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, and Private Donor Funds.

For more information, visit our laboratory website: http://labs.pbrc.edu/btl