In the BigO project, students become citizen scientists. They collect information about their lifestyle, health behaviours and the environment they live in. They do this by using a specially developed app called ‘myBigO’ (available for Android and iOS). By answering questions, taking pictures of food they consume and food advertisements they encounter in their living environment, the citizen scientists collect data about their behaviour and local living environment (see video). This data is anonymised, and the exact locations and identities of students is never known or stored.
This information is used by researchers to find out what places in Europe, and what behaviours, need more attention in order to counteract the levels of obesity in children, for example by making more effective public health policies.
The information gathered by the citizen scientists is used be researchers to create models of how the various environmental and behavioural factors influence the prevalence of obesity. Because of the amount of information available in the data that is collected, scientists will be able to create complex models to predict how specific policies will effect obesity levels in different communities.
In this way, the BigO project can be used to help public health authorities design strategies that are more effective in promoting health and lowering obesity rates in children.
On the BigO YouTube channel, you can find more information on how the app works.
Video showing the use of myBigO app