A team of US scientists have developed an innovative program which uses Artificial Intelligence to map obesity by analysing satellite imagery of urban environments.
The program using Artificial Intelligence to map obesity is being used to investigate the link between our surroundings and our health, in order to inform knowledge about obesity which is becoming increasingly prevalent.
How was the study carried out?
The study is titled ‘Use of Deep Learning to Examine the Association of the Built Environment With Prevalence of Neighborhood Adult Obesity’ and assesses how convolutional neural networks can help to study the link between the built environment and obesity prevalence in that environment.
The artificial intelligence to map obesity has been developed by a team of scientists using satellite images. The team of scientists fed 150,000 high resolution images covering six US states into a neutral network which already contained millions of images of human settlements seen from space. They then matched this data with obesity statistics in the same states. The scientists are trying to build a model to explain the link between urban buildings such as shopping malls, parks, and petrol stations, and the obesity levels in the areas that contain them.
What is the importance of the study?
The team have identified that previous studies on obesity were affected by subjective measures of the built environment and have therefore produced varying scientific results.
The team wrote: “The development of data algorithms that can automatically process satellite images to create indicators of the built environment would dramatically lower the cost and allow for investigations of the effect of place characteristics on obesity prevalence.”
The team continued: “Our study presents strong and consistent evidence suggesting that the built environment may be a significant indicator of obesity prevalence .”
The study has therefore informed knowledge of the scientific relationship between the urban environment and the levels of obesity in that environment.