Science of Behavior Change NIH Common Fund Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Science of Behavior Change

NIH Common Fund Programs: The science of behavior change

The science of behavior change is a critical area of NIH research because of the degree to which lifestyle changes can improve human health. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, type II diabetes, and stroke have all been linked to negative health behaviors like smoking and drinking. Only if scientists can understand how to motivate people to change their behaviors can a more effective prescription for remedying these ailments be constructed for our nation. Two NIH studies currently being undertaken are one which investigates how "environmental and biological factors associated with poverty and stress that underlie abnormal impulsivity that accompanies addiction to substances and unhealthy behaviors" and one which assesses environmental factors that influence the propensity for adolescents to exercise " to identify individual differences in voluntary exercise behavior and inform new ways to change exercise behavior in this age group" (Common Fund Makes New FY2010 Awards to Advance the Science of Behavior Change, 2011, NIH: Science of behavior change).

One recent journal article published upon this subject in The Journal of Exercise Science and Fitness attempted to address the degree to which adolescents tend to show markedly less physical activity than children. The article hoped that by pinpointing when the decline in physical activity occurred, future research might be able to better create a motivational prescription to encourage adolescents to be more physically active. Girls in particular tend to be less active than boys. A group of 297 13-15-year-old female adolescents had their steps per day tracked daily by a pedometer. For all of the girls, the significant drop in steps per day occurred at approximately at 15 years of age. As expected, the higher the number of daily steps, the lower the BMI and lower the girl's self-perceptions in most areas.

This study was not specifically prescriptive, but did suggest that adolescence is a critical age for intervening to encourage children to adopt healthier lifestyle habits. It showed, quantitatively, that the idea that adolescent girls are less active at the age of sexual maturity than their…

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