Physical Activity and Redesigned Community Spaces (PARCS) Study

In collaboration with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, the PARCS Study evaluates the impact of citywide park redesign and renovation on physical activity, mental health, and community well-being. The PARCS Study is a first-of-its-kind, multi-year project working with community residents across all five boroughs to better understand the relationship between community environment and health. The study utilizes the latest mobile health technology to assess park use, physical activity, and a range of psychosocial and community well-being outcomes. Results from the study will yield critical insights to inform future community design policies and practices.

As a sub-study of PARCS, we have been undertaking a qualitative study to better understand the values and needs of our participants; this helps us gain insights about better ways to engage and retain participants. See here for examples.

Principal Investigator: Terry Huang



Evaluation of Shape-Up and Community-Primary Care Linkages

With support from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and NYC Parks Departments, we are examining ways to enhance the evaluation of Shape Up, NYC, a physical activity program offered free of charge to residents in all five boroughs of the city and delivered by expert fitness instructors using various exercise classes, including aerobics, yoga, Pilates, and Zumba. The goal of the present study is to test the feasibility of collecting objective cardiovascular health data (e.g. body mass index, % body fat, blood pressure) to establish if more rigorous evaluation methods are feasible to incorporate as part of the program’s overall evaluation strategy. The study is testing state-of-the-art, portable equipment in 3 sites- Brooklyn, Bronx, and Harlem- and providing program participants with printed health reports on-site. Future work will assess how to incorporate these health measurements on a routine basis, determine what drives long-term program participation, and explore linkages to clinical care practices to support population health goals of increasing physical activity in patient populations.

Principal Investigator: Sandra Echeverria


Design Thinking for Parks

The Design Thinking for Parks initiative applies co-creation and co-design methods  to assess New York City communities’ use of their local parks. Community members were invited to participate in a series of co-creation workshops to discuss the value of local parks and strategies to increase park usage in their respective communities. Participants were led through a series of hands-on activities to explore what participants value about parks and what specific activities might be associated with these values. Drawing on these values, the research team developed several potential strategies to increase park usage. These ideas were taken back to the community for further input in a co-design workshop. The ultimate goal is to test novel implementation strategies to enhance the adoption and impact of environmental interventions such as park renovations.

Principal Investigator: Terry Huang


Evaluation of Building Healthy Communities

In partnership with the New York State Health Foundation, CSCD is an evaluation of Building Health Communities, a place-based initiative to improve the social and environmental conditions for health in underserved neighborhoods in NYC. Two of the these neighborhoods in East Harlem and the Bronx are also connected with PARCS Study sites, giving us an opportunity to expand our understanding of progress made toward a culture of health in these communities. CSCD is also working closely with NYU Langone School of Medicine, another evaluator for the initiative.

Principal Investigator: Terry Huang


Child Obesity Study of Ankara (COSA)

In partnership with the University of Nebraska and Hacettepe University in Turkey, CSCD is a lead investigator in this population-representative, SES-stratified survey study of social, behavioral and policy factors in the understanding and prevention of childhood obesity in Turkey. Obesity is rapidly rising in Turkey and the Eastern Mediterranean region. We have found that in major metropolitan areas such as Ankara, the prevalence of childhood obesity is particularly alarming, much higher than national estimates published to date. A full report on the prevalence estimates is forthcoming in an accepted article.

Principal Investigator: Terry Huang


Sociocultural Models of Obesity

We have a poor understanding of obesity and chronic disease among different subgroups within a minority population (e.g., between different groups of Asians, Black Americans or Latinos). This initiative includes two strands of research: the first aims at theory building and the identification of novel intervention levers by employing group model building (a system dynamics technique) to develop complex systems maps of the sociocultural ecosystem of childhood obesity in specific ethnic communities. See here (link out to facilitation manual) for an example of a recent workshop in Manhattan Chinatown. The second strand of research focuses on secondary data analysis of large public domain datasets that allow us to investigate trends in obesity and chronic disease among intra-ethnic subgroups. For example, we have found that foreign-born blacks are at reduced risk for obesity but higher risk for type 2 diabetes (even at lower BMI) compared to US-born blacks, even though public health studies tend to cluster all Blacks into one group. Similarly, we are exploring differences among different Asian and Latino subgroups.

Principal Investigator: Terry Huang


Commitment to Health Communities (CHC)

In collaboration with the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, the Center has been working to create and pilot a benchmarking system to assess the design, performance, and impact of food and beverage industry-sponsored community health programs in order to identify the best practices to maximize health impact and return on industry investment. Output from this work feeds into a common platform for collective impact to spur further innovation and cross-sectional collaboration. 

Principal Investigator: Terry Huang


Healthy Design in School Architecture

This transdiscplinary initiative integrates public health and architecture to provide new best practice school design guidelines to promote healthy behaviors and lifestyles. The work has informed the health and design pillar of the American Institute of Architects and a prototype school has been built in Virginia. More details of the products and publications from this work can be seen here.

Principal Investigator: Terry Huang


National Partnership on Food Portion Sizing

In collaboration with the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, the Center lends its expertise in developing a national campaign to tackle obesity through a combination of changing social norms, individual behaviors and industry practices around portion sizing.  To inform the agenda of this movement and to foster further cross-sectional dialogue, we have conducted a 3-stage Delphi survey to find consensus across sectors on key issues and opportunities. 

Principal Investigator: Terry Huang


Evaluation of Smoke-Free Housing Policy Impact on Tobacco Smoke Exposure and Health Outcomes

This study, housed at NYU Langone School of Medicine, is a large-scale natural experiment to examine the impact of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) policy on reducing ETS exposure and improving health outcomes. CSCD Faculty provide critical analytic expertise to the project. There is also cross-fertilization between this and the PARCS Study, as both projects target NYCHA residents.     

NYU Principal Investigator: Lorna Thorpe

CUNY Site Principal Investigator: Katarzyna Wyka


Early Stage Identification and Engagement to Reduce Duration of Untreated Psychosis (EaSIE)

This study will implement and evaluate a systematic screening for psychotic symptoms in community mental health clinics in order to facilitate rapid identification and engagement in treatment of individuals with first episode psychosis (FEP). CSCD Faculty provides biostatistical support.

CUNY Site Principal Investigator: Katarzyna Wyka


Interactive Nutrition Comics for Urban Minority Youth  (INC)

The major goal of this study is to design and develop a human-centered, interactive, internet/mobile-enabled dietary self-management intervention focused on reducing childhood obesity risk. CSCD Faculty provides analytical support for this study.

CUNY Site Principal Investigator: Katarzyna Wyka