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The ‘Product Environment’ is an Important Driver of Health. It’s Time to Measure It.

This article, co-authored by Steve Downs, S.M., B.S., co-founder of PHI’s Building H and Sara Singer, MBA, PhD, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, explores how the product environment contributes to shaping health behaviors and influencing population health.

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Through their products and services, businesses have a meaningful impact on their customers’ health. When markets reward products that induce unhealthy behaviors, like poor diet and limited physical activity, they fuel the chronic disease epidemic. For market mechanisms to reward positive—and to punish negative—influences on healthy behaviors, companies’ influences will need to be measured.

The article “The ‘Product Environment’ is an Important Driver of Health. It’s Time to Measure It” co-authored by Steve Downs, S.M., B.S., co-founder of PHI’s Building H and Sara Singer, MBA, PhD, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, explores how the product environment contributes to shaping health behaviors and influencing population health. Learn about an approach to measuring these impacts, with the intention of building transparency and accountability and promoting systemic change.

read the article

Measuring Impact

Measuring the impact of products and services on consumer health is no small undertaking, but the legacy of health impact assessments suggests it is possible. Health impact assessments are used to identify and assess the potential health consequences of a given policy, program or project.

The Building H Index is based on five steps:

  1. Product research
  2. Mapping product use to five health behaviors: eating, physical activity, sleeping, engaging socially and spending time outdoors
  3. Developing product profiles that articulate the influences that each product has on the five behaviors
  4. Validating the profiles with the associated companies
  5. Engaging health experts in a crowd-sourced rating exercise that translates the influences described in the profiles to numerical scores.

The Building H Index demonstrates that a review on corporate impacts on customer health behavior is possible and offers an approach that could be augmented and refined by richer data and additional research.

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Explore the Building H Index

The Building H Index rates and ranks 37 products and services—across the entertainment, food, housing and transportation industries—on the influences that they have on five behaviors: eating, physical activity, sleeping, engaging socially and spending time outdoors. The Index provides detailed reports on each company’s product, as well as overall trends by industry. It also includes specific recommendations for how products can shift to help support health and wellbeing.

Get started with the Index

Originally published by American Journal of Health Promotion


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