I love when the health world overlaps with the tech world; it makes health blogging that much more relevant. Technology is ever advancing, and folks are finding new applications for communication technology in addressing age-old problems in both the public health sphere and individual waist lines. Google and texting are helping the world get a little more healthy.
Along with searching their medicine cabinets for symptom relief, victims of the flu are also searching the Internet to verify their symptoms. By tracking these queries. Google.org, the philanthropic arm of the search engine giant, has been able to spot flu outbreaks more quickly than the Centers For Disease Control, by as much as two weeks. Advanced warning like this helps hospitals and public health officials plan for outbreaks or those flu epidemics we keep hearing about. There is a bit of skeptecism though about the accuracy. You should check out their up-to-date graphs at google.org/flutrends/, as well as a US map of flu activity by state.
To see how texting can benefit kids, just
Although many parents complain about the texting habits of their children, the texting habit might just pay off when it comes to self monitoring food and exercise habits for weight loss. Both adults and children are often poor at tracking their healthy changes and weight loss efforts. Keeping a food journal has been shown to help keep adults on track, but kids these days have moved beyond pen and paper. A recent study conducted by the UNC Hospital found that texting and receiving feedback via texting helped children ages 5 to 13 effectively monitor their behavior. The message on texting is that it is "gr8 4 kids" and weight loss. Not much of a surprise, but good to know we can experiment with communications technology and harness them for healthy purposes.