Facebook 'likes' could track, map obesity

Facebook interests could help predict and track obesity, according to a study by researchers at Children's Hospital Boston, in which geotagged Facebook user data was compared with data from national surveys. An announcement from the hospital states that "the conclusions suggest that knowledge of people's online interests within geographic areas may help public health researchers predict, track and map obesity rates down to the neighborhood level, while offering an opportunity to design geotargeted online interventions aimed at reducing obesity rates."

To "connect the dots," researchers compared interest data of Boston area-users to the national and New York City-based users with data from two telephone-based health surveys: a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey and a New York community health survey. The research was published in the journal PLOS OneStudy