IBM (Armonk, N.Y.) launched a multi-year research effort to connect and analyze data from disparate sources to enable individuals, governments, and businesses to better understand cause and effect relationships between agriculture, transportation, city planning, eating and exercise habits, socio-economic status, family life, and more in order to improve overall human health. The project will initially focus on childhood obesity.
In the United States, chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity account for 70 percent of all deaths and more than $1.5 trillion of healthcare spending annually, but factors far outside the traditional healthcare system influence these diseases. By predicting real world reactions that effect human health, the IBM Research project aims to provide fact-based recommendations of actions to take and ones to avoid.
The project could, for example, pinpoint incentives governments and businesses might offer or what types of investments to prioritize when considering the location of a new grocery store in relation to a transportation hub for easier accessibility for people without cars, or provide better understanding around the impact of food labels on marketing practices, buying habits, and school lunch quality.
IBM intends to partner with public policy and food experts, medical clinicians, economists, simulation experts, industry leaders, universities and others in this collaborative endeavor.