Using Simulations for Exploring Interventions in Social Networks - Modeling Physical Activity Behaviour in Dutch School Classes

Eric Fernandes De Mello Araújo, Bojan Simoski, Thabo Van Woudenberg, Kirsten Bevelander, Crystal Smit, Laura Buijs, Michel Klein, Moniek Buijzen

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The reduction of childhood obesity through the promotion of a healthy lifestyle is one of the most important public health challenges at the moment. It is known that the unhealthy habits of children can cause unavoidable side effects in their early stage of life, including both physical and mental consequences. This work considers that the physical activity level of children is a behaviour that can be spread throughout the social relations of children in their daily life at school. Therefore, the aim of this work is to define what the best strategy is to find 'targets' (i.e., influential children that can initiate behavioural change) for physical activity (PA) interventions that would affect the average PA of a population of Dutch school classes. We tuned a model based on the influence of the children's peers in their social network, based on the data set from the MyMovez project-Phase I. Five intervention strategies were implemented, and their efficacy was compared. Once the targets were chosen, an increase of 17% was applied to their initial PA. Then, the diffusion model was run to verify the improvement on the PA of the whole network after one year. We discuss implications of the simulation results on which strategies may be used to make informed choices about the setup of social network interventions and future model improvements. Our results show that targeting more vulnerable children (i.e. in a worse environment) and applying a network optimization algorithm are the best solutions for this data set indicating that future interventions should aim for these two strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 8th International Conference on Simulation and Modeling Methodologies, Technologies and Applications
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 1 : SIMULTECH
EditorsFloriano De Rango, Mohammad S. Obaidat, Mohammad S. Obaidat, Tuncer Oren
PublisherSciTePress
Pages414-425
Number of pages12
Volume1
ISBN (Electronic)9789897583230
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2018
Event8th International Conference on Simulation and Modeling Methodologies, Technologies and Applications, SIMULTECH 2018 - Porto, Portugal
Duration: 29 Jul 201831 Jul 2018

Conference

Conference8th International Conference on Simulation and Modeling Methodologies, Technologies and Applications, SIMULTECH 2018
CountryPortugal
CityPorto
Period29/07/1831/07/18

Keywords

  • Agent-based modeling
  • Behavioural informatics
  • Children
  • Physical activity
  • Social contagion
  • Social networks

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