During 2013 and 2014 M-TEENS recruited U.S. Army families living within the Continental United States with at least one child born between April 1, 1999 and March 31, 2001 who attended a public or DoD-run (DoDEA) school. Army personnel received an email inviting them to participate and providing instructions for how to begin the enrollment process. Within each family, one parent/guardian and one child independently completed an online survey. If preferred, parents and children could fill out a paper copy and mail the completed survey back using a self-addressed stamped envelope provided by the study.

Over the past four years, M-TEENS has surveyed over 1,500 military families. This Fall 2017, we will be reaching out to these families and will be asking them to complete follow-up surveys. Additionally, M-TEENS will be conducting videoconferences through Skype to measure the height, weight, and waist circumference of participating parents and teens. Following these families over a three year period will help us understand how military children's diet and physical activity can change over time.

USC and RAND will analyze survey information and measurements to describe the food and physical activity environments in the children's schools and neighborhoods and evaluate how the characteristics of those environments influence their diet, physical activity, sedentary behaviors, and body weight. Outcomes of particular interest include:

  • Participation in physical activity and the location of those activities
  • Participation in sedentary behaviors
  • Eating behaviors including frequency of intake of selected foods and beverages
  • Body composition measures such as BMI, waist circumference, and body fat.

What Makes M-TEENS Unique?

Many characteristics set M-TEENS apart from other studies:

  • This study uses a large sample of Army enlisted families across multiple installations within the Continental United States.
  • Data are collected from multiple informants within each participating family (one parent/guardian and one teen).
  • Collecting data from the same respondents over multiple years allows us to describe the changes in environments that result from Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves and their impact on children's body weight and related behaviors.
  • We select families of enlisted Army personnel based on their having a child in the appropriate age group and based on the likelihood of a PCS move
  • The study will examine environments related to food and physical activity in a variety of contexts including the child's school, home, and neighborhood.

M-TEENS uses standard and validated measures (where available) that will enable comparison with other study samples. This study assesses a wide range of outcomes including:

  • Participation in physical activity as well as the intensity and location of those activities,
  • Participation in sedentary behaviors,
  • Eating behaviors including frequency of intake for specific food and beverage items, and
  • Body composition measures such as body mass index (BMI) and percent fat.

M-TEENS is funded by the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and conducted by the University of Southern California (USC) and RAND Corporation, an independent research organization. The study is led by Ashlesha Datar and Nancy Nicosia.

For more information, read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).