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Facebook knows if you're fat

How your 'likes' might predict your health.

By Sally Wadyka Apr 29, 2013 7:22PM
Unlike the generation that has basically grown up online -- and thinks nothing of revealing pretty much anything to anyone with access to the web -- I’m old enough to find that lack of privacy a little bit creepy. When ads pop up for my favorite stores or Facebook suggests friending someone whose name I haven’t thought of since grade school, I can’t help but wonder how they know so much about me.

Now, researchers used data gleaned from Facebook to predict which geographic areas have the highest levels of obesity and lowest levels of physical activity. In a study at Boston Children’s Hospital, the researchers found a strong correlation between areas in which Facebook users had the most activity-related interests and low obesity rates and areas in which users had the most television-related interests and high obesity rates.

They gathered data from Facebook users nationwide -- looking at their “likes,” what they posted to their timelines and anything they “shared” with other users. Then they compared that information with the results of two telephone-based health surveys, a national one conducted by the CDC and another done just among residents of New York City. They found that the obesity rates shown in the CDC survey were 12 percent lower in the location where Facebook users had the most activity-related interests (the outdoorsy town of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho) compared with the location where Facebookers had the fewest activity-related interests (Kansas City).

The data also lined up when they looked at television watching and obesity rates.

The obesity rate was 3.9 percent higher in area around Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where Facebook users talk a lot about television, than it was in Eugene-Springfield, Oregon, where TV is not a hot topic on most people’s Facebook pages.

So don’t be surprised in the future if, along with knowing what brand of jeans you might like to buy, Facebook starts offering online interventions to encourage you to eat better and exercise more. Guess I’d better keep my thoughts about the latest episode of Mad Men to myself.

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59Comments
Apr 30, 2013 12:47AM
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It's very simple...Don't have a Facebook account.  Problem solved.
Apr 30, 2013 1:13AM
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Never been on it....won't go on it........and would NEVER blab so much personal, or day-to-day  information about myself as most users seem to do!  Just inviting trouble by doing that !  
Apr 30, 2013 1:09AM
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facebook needs to get back to its roots or go away.....................
Apr 30, 2013 12:56AM
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not surprising...being the twirps at face book track your every move...

 

yup, simple...BAN FACE BOOK!

Apr 30, 2013 1:06AM
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I am not going to the class reunion. I already know that you are fat.
Apr 30, 2013 1:55AM
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Libbilee:  Facebook is for people who don't have a life cuz if they did, they wouldn't have time for facebook.....
As opposed to people who don't use FB but read articles about it and just HAVE to comment about it.

Apr 30, 2013 1:39AM
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Facebook is for people who don't have a life cuz if they did, they wouldn't have time for facebook.
Apr 30, 2013 1:07AM
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i dialed my fb back.  it's like the last ditch effort for those who have no sense to make their agenda fly in a sink or float world. 
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