obesity research

Here’s my latest scheme for

local civic work, connected to the Prince

George’s Information Commons. We would train young people to rate local food

sources (both shops and restaurants) for healthiness. We would then generate an

online map of the healthiest places in the community to buy food. This map would

be our direct public service. Meanwhile, we would use the data in combination

with local health statistics to test these hypotheses:

  • It is good

    for your health to live near a source of healthy food.

  • It is bad for your

    health to live near a source of unhealthy food.

  • It is bad for your health

    to live near no food sources (because then you have to drive and don’t get exercise).

No

doubt, healthy food outlets tend to locate near healthy populations, so we’d have

to be careful before drawing the conclusion that the presence of a health-food

store explains the good health of its neighborhood. But with the appropriate

statistical controls, we might discover that the availability of various kinds

of food does matter for health—and that would be useful for planners to know.

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