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PHI, LiveStories Win HHS U.S. Obesity Data Challenge

September 02, 2015

HealthData+Obesity tool chosen to address nationwide epidemic

HealthData+, a partnership between the Public Health Institute and LiveStories with support from the California HealthCare Foundation, created the winning entry in a national competition designed to address obesity in communities across the country. HealthData+Obesity was created to help health officers tell a powerful story about the root causes of obesity—and what communities can do to address it. View the winning application.

The de Beaumont Foundation, in collaboration with the Health Data Consortium (HDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced the winners of the U.S. Obesity Data Challenge today, at NHS England’s Health and Care Innovation Expo 2015. The challenge is part of a joint U.S.-England initiative designed to harness the power of health data through  “visualization tools that curated and mashed up open data sources to help communities, health officials and health care practitioners address obesity, which affects one out of every three Americans.”

LiveStories, a data visualization company located in Seattle, and the Public Health Institute, a large public health organization based in Oakland, won the first place U.S. award and a $20,000 prize for HealthData+Obesity, an outgrowth of a California initiative recently launched in partnership with funding from the California HealthCare Foundation to help counties improve their capacity to communicate health data to key local constituents.

HealthData+Obesity provides a carefully curated dashboard, with data, visuals and text that help local health officers easily communicate about the larger social and environmental factors known to drive obesity within a community.



“Public health practice is built on evidence—but sorting through all the health-related data out there can be overwhelming,” explains Jessica Tomlinson, JD, program director of the Public Health Institute’s team working on HealthData+. “Users can drill down directly to local data and  connect to interventions and solutions.”

The application pulls data from multiple sources, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings. Users can quickly compare local obesity rates to national targets, then find data and information about local opportunities for physical activity, and access to healthy foods—like local farmers' markets that accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamp) benefits.

“We built a platform designed to help users easily visualize, discuss and present the data that matters,” says LiveStories founder Adnan Mahmud. “And health officials were eager to use it. HealthData+ drives data--but more importantly, it empowers local health department officials to drive change.”

The HealthData+ team is available to consult with non-profits, health departments and other health/healthcare practitioners to create custom dashboards with local data, images, videos, quotes, on-the-ground strategies, or a “call to action.” Find out more at healthdataplus.org.

The winning team was comprised of Amy Max, Jessica Tomlinson and Ann Whidden from the Public Health Institute, and Adnan Mahmud, Anders Maul, Mac Taylor and Rocky Pristou-Globokar from LiveStories.


Share with a tweet: Bring your #health #data to life at http://ctt.ec/JZ4ju+ From @phidotorg @livestoriescom! Winner of @ChallengeGov #ObesityDataChallenge


More information:

About HealthData+ 

The idea for focusing on data communication through HealthData+ was conceptualized by and initiated through the California HealthCare Foundation, with funding to LiveStories, PHI and Civic Knowledge to develop the California pilot. HealthData+  is designed to help  health departments and other local health policymakers combine data and stories in ways that engage audiences to drive decision making, strengthen policy and improve health.


About LiveStories

LiveStories is powering modern government with a user-friendly data tool that makes it easy to visualize, discuss, and present data.


About the Public Health Institute

The Public Health Institute, an independent nonprofit organization, is dedicated to promoting health, well-being and quality of life for people throughout California, across the nation and around the world.