Map of Food Access and Predominant Race/Ethnicity in Washington, DC – What’s your massive idea for health innovation?

I posted previously that there are a lot of interesting correlations between health/unhealth and location as seen in maps of Washington, DC (see: Quantified Community: Visualizing the health and illness of Washington, DC through open data and art).

This is a new starter map from that includes Access to Healthy Food and Predominant Race/Ethnicity:

This map includes block group-level data showing the dominant race/ethnicity from the 2010 Census. The map also includes locations of Farmers’ Markets and SNAP-Authorized Retailer Locations from the USDA.

Using the Layer and Label controls you can turn on additional layers that have been added to this map including: USDA Food Desert Census Tracts and the CDC’s Modified Retail Food Environment Index.

This map shows similarities to the maps in that post around features of wards 5, 7, and 8 (on the right and lower right of the District map), but also some differences. What do can we do with this information to understand why people may want to choose the best behaviors but don’t have the right choice architecture?

I’m not sure, I’m not that smart, and my ideas are not that unique, so I am going to the Obesity Prevention Code-A-Thon on June 2-3, at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health to connect with others. I’ve also posted a massive idea for health innovation, and you should too. The prize is a Massive Health ( @MassiveHealth ) T-shirt. I already have one, it’s high quality cotton and the art definitely starts conversations about health – highly recommended.

I’m specifically looking to connect with people who are interested in upstream causes (or “the causes of the causes” ) of health inequalities and using data to create productive collaboration. Washington, DC, is not in England, where the health care and social care systems are more connected – we need to be more creative. Fortunately, we’re good at that. This is Washington, DC, after all :).

Oh, and before you look at the map and say to yourself, “race/ethnicity is correlated with poor food access,” make sure you read the article Place, not race: disparities dissipate when blacks and whites live under similar conditions – this study demonstrates that health inequalities are a function of location, not race. Check it out.

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Ted Eytan, MD