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The BEACHES system was used to observe and code physical activity and eating behaviors, as well as their social and physical context, for the research project Social Learning of Diet and Physical Activity in Children, funded by the Heart, Lung, and Blood Division of National Institutes of Health from 1986-1991.

Contact: Thomas L. McKenzie, Ph.D., Department of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, 92182 (

Main Citation:

McKenzie, T.L., Sallis, J.F., Nader, P.R., Patterson, T.L., Elder, J.P., Berry, C.C., Rupp, J.W., Atkins, C.J., Buono, M.J., and Nelson, J.A.  (1991).  BEACHES:  An observational system for assessing children’s eating and physical activity behaviors and associated events.  Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 24, 141-151. 

The San Diego BEACHES is a comprehensive direct observation system designed to simultaneously code the physical activity and eating behaviors of children and related environmental factors. It can be used at home, at school, and in any other settings that a targeted child might go. The system was developed from a behavior analytic (operant psychology/social learning theory) viewpoint and includes coding for 10 separate categories.

Observers fill out the code sheet by sequentially focusing on the target child for 25 seconds and then take up to 35 seconds to enter data codes into a lap-held computer.

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