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Background:

National and international strategies to increase physical activity emphasize environmental and policy changes that can have widespread and long-lasting impact. Evidence from multiple countries using comparable methods is required to strengthen the evidence base for such initiatives. Because some environment and policy changes could have generalizable effects and others may depend on each country’s context, only international studies using comparable methods can identify the relevant differences.

Methods:

Currently 12 countries are participating in the International Physical Activity and the Environment Network (IPEN) study. The IPEN Adult study design involves recruiting adult participants from neighborhoods with wide variations in environmental walkability attributes and socioeconomic status (SES).

Results:

Eleven of twelve countries are providing accelerometer data and 11 are providing GIS data. Current projections indicate that 14,119 participants will provide survey data on built environments and physical activity and 7145 are likely to provide objective data on both the independent and dependent variables. Though studies are highly comparable, some adaptations are required based on the local context.

Conclusions:

This study was designed to inform evidence-based international and country-specific physical activity policies and interventions to help prevent obesity and other chronic diseases that are high in developed countries and growing rapidly in developing countries.

Kerr, Sallis, Conway, and Cain are with the University of San Diego–California, USA. Sallis, Adams, Conway, Cain, and Bracy are also with San Diego State University, USA; Adams is also with Arizona State University, USA. Owen and Sugiyama are with Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute and University of Queensland, Australia; Owen is also with Monash University and with the Universities of Melbourne and Queensland. De Bourdeaudhuij and Van Dyck are with Ghent University, Belgium. Cerin, and Macfarlane are with The University of Hong Kong, China. Reis is with Pontiff Catholic University of Parana, Brazil. Sarmiento is with Universidad de los Andes, Colombia. Frömel and Mitáš are with Palacky University in Olomouc, Czech Republic. Troelsen and Christiansen are with the University of Southern Denmark, Denmark. Salvo is with Emory University, USA. Schofield is with the Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand. Badland is with University College London, United Kingdom and the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Australia. Guillen-Grima and Aguinaga-Ontoso are with the Public University of Navarra, Spain. Davey is with Canberra University, Australia. Bauman is with The University of Sydney, Australia. Saelens is with the Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington, USA. Riddoch is with the University of Bath, United Kingdom. Ainsworth is with Arizona State University, USA. Pratt and Schmidt are with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA. Frank is with the University of British Columbia, Canada.