“I’d hope that people would look to this data source to understand how it can improve our understanding of chronic diseases and population-level conditions,” Rumi Chunara, an instructor at Harvard Medical School and an author of the study, told me.
Facebook (s FB) “likes” don’t just give marketers a sense of whom to target with advertising, they’re increasingly giving public health officials valuable clues into the country’s wellbeing.
Recently, researchers at the Children’s Hospital in Boston analyzed aggregated data on users’ Facebook activity and interests to examine the connection between online social environments and obesity prevalence. They found that areas with higher percentages of people with interests related to healthy activities and fitness had lower obesity rates, while populations with a greater percentage of people who had liked or commented on television was an indicator of higher obesity rates.
Interestingly, the study found that social data about sports in general was not correlated with obesity because people may be merely watching sports or following it, not taking an active role in it.
The researchers, who published their findings in the journal PLOS ONE, not only determined that Facebook…
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