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EU funds Big Data project to design strategies to combat childhood obesity

There are multiple and complex determinants of childhood obesity ranging from the socio-economic environment to individual behaviours but their role is not clearly understood. Can new sensor technologies and big data help us collect evidence to inform and develop effective prevention efforts?

BigO ( is an EU-funded project that collects objective evidence on the causes of obesity in local communities and helps public health authorities design effective counter obesity interventions. A novel technological platform will be built relying on big data analytics and visualisation. The BigO platform will use sensor technologies to record children’s daily eating and physical activity behaviour and correlate it with environment data from on-line sources. Widely spread sensors in smartphones or activity bracelets will be used, in combination with Mandometer®, a clinically validated device monitoring the rate of food intake. Data as a whole will include what and how children eat, how they move and sleep, along with characteristics of their urban, socioeconomic, commercial and school environment. Data driven analytics will then be employed to extract relationships between environment, personal behaviour, obesity risk factors and obesity prevalence and determine which particular local conditions are associated with the development of obesity in children of a specific region. BigO will engage children and adolescents aged 9-18 years from Greece, Sweden and Ireland, to share their data as citizen scientists. Moreover, age-matched obese children will be recruited from obesity clinics in these countries. The project started in December of 2016 and aims to reach out to more than 25000 children in its 4-year duration. Obesity is a major global and European public health problem, causing 2.8 million deaths among adults worldwide each year. Its prevalence has more than tripled in many European countries since the 1980s. “BigO is envisioned as a powerful tool for the public health officials”, says Anastasios Delopoulos, project coordinator and professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. “For the first time, it will be possible to identify and prioritize the community environmental factors that lead to childhood obesity and plan appropriate programs tailored to local conditions. Supported by powerful visualizations, public health officials will also be able to predict the effectiveness of their interventions to the obesogenic behavior of the population and also to monitor and assess the result of their programs,” he adds. The BigO consortium brings together a close-knit team of schools, health and clinical scientists, public health authorities, researchers in data analytics and personal health systems, technology providers and mobile communication providers. The 13 European partners are from Greece, Sweden, Ireland, Spain and the Netherlands. Contact: Prof. Anastasios Delopoulos, BigO Coordinator, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki GREECE Phone +30 2310 9 96272 Dr. Cecilia Bergh, BigO Dissemination Leader, CEO, Mando Group AB SWEDEN Phone +46 (0)8 556 406 00


public health policies, health data, health services, health care research, bioinformatics, e-Health, medical informatics, obesity prevention and treatment, wearable sensors, big data, data mining, behavioural informatics, evidence based health policy design, community sourcing


Greece, Spain, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden