An Agent-Based Simulation Model for Testing Novel Obesity Interventions in School Environment Design

Jeri Brittin, Ozgur M. Araz, Adrian Ramirez-Nafarrate, Terry T.K. Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Studying the impact of built-environment changes on human behavior and health is empirically challenging. To overcome this challenge, there has been increasing recognition of the usefulness of systems’ approaches for scenario testing to understand and prioritize such public health interventions. Limited research has shown a potential effect on the positive energy expenditure as a result of the use of dynamic furniture that promotes micromovement among school children. In this article, we aim to determine, via experiments in simulated populations of elementary school students, whether the use of dynamic furniture in the school environment has an impact on the childhood obesity over time. An agent-based model is developed to simulate three physical activity (PA) profiles over a period of six years with and without the dynamic furniture. Based on the prevalence trends from the experiments, there is no apparent impact of dynamic furniture use among boys, regardless of activity profile category. However, there are some pieces of evidence of differing trends among girls with a low PA profile. Although the intervention produces a marginal change in obesity prevalence in one population, the dynamic furniture is not a sole solution to the obesity epidemic. However, the use of dynamic furniture in schools may be a worthwhile component of prevention interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Agent-based modeling (ABM)
  • built environment
  • childhood obesity
  • decision analytics
  • Mathematical model
  • Obesity
  • Pediatrics
  • Public healthcare
  • Sociology
  • Statistics
  • Testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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