2014-11-13

The Healthiest Eating Cities In The World

The Eatery app has enough self-inputted data about people’s dining habits that it can make some bold claims about where people are eating the best and worst in the world. Hint: Cheesesteaks aren’t so great for you.

When health startup Massive Health first released the Eatery, a simple iPhone app that asks people to take pictures of their food and then rate other people’s pictures based on their healthiness (kind of like a Hot or Not for food), it was hard to gauge its potential impact. I knew from talking to the Massive Health team that the startup had ambitions in the health care technology space beyond this one app, but I wasn’t sure what those ambitions were. This week, Massive Health released a set of data extracted from the Eatery. It will, according to Massive Health cofounder Aza Raskin, inform the design of future products from the company. "If we want to change the way people live, we have to understand them," he says.

Here are some of the statistics from the Eatery’s hundreds of thousands of users (check out the full infographic below).

  • People in different parts of the world have somewhat strange proclivities. For whatever reason, people in San Francisco eat a whole lot more brussel sprouts than everyone else. New Yorkers eat more arugula, and Philadelphia residents eat more bagels. Sao Paulo residents eat more beans. Guess which city shown in the infographic is unhealthiest based on overall Eatery food ratings? (It’s Philadelphia.)
  • People eat 1.7% less healthy after each hour that passes in the day, presumably as their willpower erodes. That means breakfast is usually the healthiest meal, while dinner is the unhealthiest.
  • Eatery users eat 12.4% less healthy than they think they do. The less healthy a food is, the less accurate users rate it for themselves. A user might rate their recently eaten slice of pizza as being pretty healthy, but judge a slice of pizza eaten by someone else as unhealthy.
  • Copenhagen is the healthiest city in the infographic based on Eatery use, followed by Sao Paolo, New York City, San Francisco, Tokyo, and Philadelphia.

Raskin has few doubts about the validity of crowdsourced data. The crowd, he says, is better at counting the number of jelly beans in a jar than an expert. The same is true with stock market predictions.

Just five months after launch, the Eatery is affecting the eating habits of its users. According to Raskin, users ate 8% better (based on crowdsourced food rankings) after 30 days, and 11% better after three months. "It’s addicting. People will take a picture of their food and rate 20 or 30 other pictures after," he says.

Raskin stresses that Massive Health is not a mobile app company, though it will continue making mobile apps. The company also isn’t just about food; in the future, it will expand into other health-related areas, including stress, exercise, and sleep. Raskin won’t reveal any details, but he does say that he’s heading in the direction of something that "feels like a tricorder."

Stay tuned in the coming days for more infographics from Massive Health’s data collection. The full graphic of Eatery’s data is below:

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4 Comments

  • $2353470

    Rarely do I quote Joe Biden from a position of agreement, but I certainly do here.  "Malarkey !"

    NYC has GREAT food, but "healthy" ?!?!?

    The author has obviously never seen the 4 million "slices" consumed every day, 2-pound deli sandwiches at scores of places, "BIG Apple" pie, truckloads of foie gras and other succulent delicacies that are emblematic of the city.  Even the hundreds of imitators of the "Soup Nazi" - have you checked out the calorie-count on those soups ?  Everyone who knows the city can go on and on like this. Salad does NOT come readily to mind.   Hmm. I'm getting hungry.

  • Jimmy

    30.3% rating for Tokyo? The Japanese have one of the healthiest and balanced diets in the world. Just look at what their average life expectancy is.

  • Thomas Faust

    83.6% healthy rating for New York?  Really?  I lived in Harlem (and Philadelphia for a long time - and in fact the 28.6% rating should be even lower there) and have seen and participated in the eating habits of the general population.  They are not healthy, to say the least, for many socio-economic and cultural reasons.  Nor do many people in Harlem (or most poor people in poor areas of American cities) own iPhones.  This concept and the data it collects are flawed from the start and just smacks of the usual presumptuous nature of social media in this day and age - that everyone is equally connected to the smarthphone, crowd-sourcing world, and that somehow data or ideas resulting from that demographic speaks for an entire populace.

    All this data tells you are what the eating habits of a small group of relatively privileged people are.  What this should do is break the data down by the income level of the posters and uploaders and cross that with the neighborhoods in which they live and where the food is consumed.  My guess is that you won't find an 83.6% healthy rating in the food deserts of East Harlem. 

    I wonder if it was conscious or unconscious decision to make every cartoon character in the chart white and obviously a hipster.  Sort of sums everything up right there, doesn't it?

    And for the record, I am all for paying attention to what you eat - which I feel is all you can ask for from an iPhone app.  But don't generalize the data to summarize a large, varied group of people. 

  • nonamehere

    bingo! iq test of the 21st C. by fancy white folk, about fancy white folk, for fancy white folk. Thanks for the land and slave labour, everyone else!