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Calling All Developers & Innovators: Help Us Tackle Obesity!

It’s hard to hide from the data – obesity is a growing and global challenge we must collectively fight. Today, the adult obesity rate in England is almost 25 percent and projected to affect 60 percent of adult men and 50 percent of women by 2050. Over one-third of U.S. adults are obese. The data on childhood obesity in both nations are also quite dismal. To chip away at the problem, we need a collaborative effort to find creative, data-driven solutions within and beyond the traditional health care community. Developers (yes, you!) we need your innovative solutions to save lives in both nations!

The Health Data Consortium (HDC), the de Beaumont Foundation, the U.K. National Health Services (NHS) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), are pleased to announce the U.S.-U.K. Obesity Data Challenge, which evolved from an HHS/NHS England memorandum of understanding committing to a joint program of work around data and technology. Each country will run separate but parallel challenges for those data enthusiasts in their respective countries. These challenges call upon all data enthusiasts to mash up any and all relevant open data for the development of a new data visualization that could be used in either or both the U.K. and U.S. health ecosystems to help inform patients and practitioners about the obesity epidemic. Alternatively, entrants could propose to make data they already collect and hold, relevant to the obesity debate, open source under an open reuse license.

What excites me about this challenge opportunity is the vast potential for impactful solutions to help combat the obesity epidemic. There are so many factors that contribute to obesity like our personal food choices, the availability of affordable healthy foods, locations for us to exercise where we live, and so much more. Asking the right questions about these influencers and others could lead to groundbreaking solutions around obesity.

In the U.S. Obesity Data Challenge, we are seeking solutions that enable public health and health care professionals to help patients and families address the obesity epidemic at a personal and community level. Your tool must use at least one piece of open government data from a U.S. government department or agency.

Submissions will be collected through Friday, July 31, and winners will be announced by Friday, August 21. Due the generosity of the de Beaumount Foundation, $40,000 in cash awards will be paid to the best submissions as determined by a judging panel. Special thanks to Ed Hunter and Brian Castrucci of the de Beaumont Foundation for making this challenge possible.

We will be holding a webinar on Tuesday, June 23, from 1:00-2:00pm EDT where you can ask your questions about the ins and outs of the U.S. Obesity Data Challenge. Simply register for the webinar here. In addition, feel free to pose questions you have about the challenge on the U.S. Obesity Data Challenge page on the Challenge.gov website.

If you’re interested in learning more about the U.K. Obesity Data Challenge, check out their website.

Join us in spreading the word about this challenge (#ObesityDataChallenge) and check back for challenge updates. We hope you will answer this call and leverage data using your innovative skills to help address obesity!

This content is cross posted on the HHS IDEA Lab Blog.