We all know that we should “eat less and move more” in order to stay healthy, but that’s easier said than done.
In March 2022, a new programme called H2A was launched in Leicester, UK — relying on artificial intelligence to provide more personalized weight loss support for people in a bid to tackle obesity and its related risks. The team is creating a software tool that takes into account factors such as demographics, location, and social and environmental influences. The initiative will also inform wider policies and localized strategies to reduce barriers to healthy lifestyles.
The H2A programme is being delivered by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and Leicester City Council, bringing together experts in AI, sports, psychology, nutrition and social care. It aims to help adults in Leicester, half of which are overweight or obese, as well as children for whom the obesity is higher than national levels.
Specifically, H2A aims to increase the numbers of children taking part in school sports and support the development of neighborhood programmes to encourage more active lifestyles. By analyzing data, the researchers are also looking to find “hidden trends” across Leicester.
“Our vision is to co-create with local communities and stakeholders to make physical activity and a healthy diet easier and promote healthy weight across our local population,” said Bertha Ochieng, Professor of Integrated Health and Social Care at DMU and lead for the project. “During the project, we will develop an interactive tool to allow the study to target the areas and communities most in need and support the local public health practitioners’ whole systems approach to promoting healthy weight across the lifespan.”
The H2A team has access to datasets including health deprivation statistics, pollution levels, physical activity, health authority information, average weight, sports and wellbeing data broken down by postcode and Sports England studies. It includes hundreds of thousands of data points with multitudes of features within them.
The project is at an early stage but it could show trends related to age, employment status, air pollution or consumption of takeaway food, for example. The tool could also inform the placement and promotion of services such as shared bikes.
An AI model that can predict the minimum changes needed in an individual’s lifestyle will be incorporated into the digital app and suggest so-called “nudges” to improve one’s wellbeing.
The H2A programme is the latest project in DMU’s Local+ programme, a joint scheme through which academics become consultants for the authority, applying their own and others’ research into key projects.
Called the H2A programme, it is being delivered by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and Leicester City Council, drawing on expertise in not only AI and machine learning - but also sports, psychology and social care.
It aims to increase numbers of children taking part in school sports, develop neighborhood programmes to encourage more active lifestyles and analyze data to find "hidden trends" in the lifestyles of people across Leicester. In that sense, the project team includes representatives from psychology, sport, AI and public health — alongside senior leaders from the university and Leicester City Council.
Artificial intelligence is promising to make a big impact in our lives and what this project from Leicester, UK shows is how that technology could be put into good use for the health of the people. Perhaps you, as a public official, could help orchestrate some kind of partnership with a few key players from the local IT community and maybe one of the tech giants to first collect the (anonymized) data of your constituents and later use it to launch an app that would deliver actionable insights to the people. Such an endeavor would show your community as future-ready and you as a leader to look up to.
Artificial intelligence is promising to make a big impact in our lives and what this project from Leicester, UK shows is how that technology could be put into good use for the health of the people. Perhaps your company could help orchestrate some kind of partnership with a few key players from the local IT community and maybe one of the tech giants to first collect the (anonymized) data of citizens and later use it to launch an app that would deliver actionable insights to the people. Such an endeavor would show your city-client as future-ready and you as a company to look up to for launching similar projects in other municipalities.