Tuesday, April 6, 2010

USDA Launches Interactive Atlas Comparing Food and Health

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has launched a new online mapping
tool to assess American food environments and how a range of factors may
relate to diet-related illnesses.

The tool, Your Food Environment Atlas, has been designed for the use of food
policy makers, researchers, and the general public. Users can pick from a
list of variables, such as proximity to grocery stores, food insecurity,
physical activity levels, food taxes, health, and food prices, among others,
and apply them to any American state.

The launch comes at a time when obesity and possible public health
interventions are high on the public and political agenda, with the recent
announcement of Michelle Obama's 'Let's Move' campaign that focuses on
physical activity and healthy eating to tackle childhood obesity, and taxes
on certain foods and drinks being considered in several states.

The USDA designed the atlas based on three broad categories: Food choice,
health choice and community characteristics. It then breaks these down into
90 separate indicators that can be applied at a state or county level.

Several government agencies contributed to the data apart from the USDA,
including the National Institutes of Health; the National Farm-to-School
Network; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Your Food Environment Atlas can be viewed at:
http://maps.ers.usda.gov/FoodAtlas/

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