Obesity Data Challenge

The de Beaumont Foundation, in collaboration with the Health Data Consortium (HDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), launched the Obesity Data Challenge, a joint U.S.-England initiative to tackle the epidemic of adult obesity.

The Obesity Data Challenges were two parallel, prize-based competitions running in the United States and in England, where it was led by National Health Service (NHS) England and their organizing partner, Rewired State. Each country’s challenge participants could utilize and mash up open data to develop new data visualization tools to give communities, local health officials, patients and practitioners new means to improve population health.

In the U.S. challenge, HDC and the de Beaumont Foundation were seeking solutions that enabled health care professionals and local health officials to help patients and families address the obesity epidemic at both a personal and community level. Entrants were encouraged to utilize open government data sets from HealthData.gov; alternatively, entrants could propose to make data they already collected available to the public under an open reuse license.

Winners of both the U.S. and England Obesity Data Challenges were announced on September 2, 2015. A multi-tiered award of $40,000 was divided among five winners.

The diverse panel of judges evaluated entries based on five criteria:

  1. How creative and innovative is the proposed solution?
  2. To what degree does this solution utilize evidenced-based treatments or approaches?
  3. What is the potential impact on health care or population health?
  4. Will clinicians and public health practitioners find this solution both usable and applicable to their work?
  5. How functional is the proposed tool or solution?

The winning entries were:

  • Healthdata+Obesity (1st place) — This simple, curated dashboard helps health officials tell a powerful story about the root causes of obesity. The dashboard provides customizable data visualizations at the national, state, and local level as well as an interactive map, national benchmarks, and written content to contextualize the data. Developed by HealthData+, a partnership between the Public Health Institute and LiveStories.
  • The Neighborhood Map of U.S. Obesity (2nd Place) — This highly-detailed, interactive map incorporates obesity data with a GIS database to provide a localized, high-resolution visualization of the prevalence of obesity. Additional data sources can also be added to the map to allow researchers and health officials greater flexibility in customizing the map to support analysis and decision-making on a community level. Developed by RTI International.
  • The Health Demographic Analysis Tool – Visualizing The Cross-Sector Relationship Between Obesity And Social Determinants (3rd Place) — This interactive database maps the relationship between the social determinants of health (factors like educational attainment, income, and lifestyle choices) and health outcomes in order to illustrate what plays a role in community health. The powerful images generated by this tool provide compelling material for new health interventions as well as a way to look retrospectively at the impact of existing public health campaigns. Developed by GeoHealth Innovations and Community Health Solutions.
  • U.S. Obesity and Healthy Living Locator (Honorable Mention) — This data visualization tool provides a user interface that integrates obesity data with county-level information on physical activity, access to nutritional food, and socioeconomic status. Researchers are able to compare these statistics at a glance in order to inform more precisely-targeted public health interventions. Developed by Auychai Suvanujasiri and Hongwei Zhang.
  • Obesity Prevention Through Conversation (Honorable Mention – Consumer Focused) — This app creates a template for clinicians to engage patients in productive, data-driven conversations about their health. Combining a patient risk summary with a health dashboard and discussion prompts, this tool facilitates positive, patient-centered counseling around obesity. Developed by HeartSmartKids.

Read the full press release of the announcement of the winning entries here.