Localizing Diabetes Risks with Google Maps

Scientists of the DZD partner Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) plan to localize risk factors for type 2 diabetes via geocoding services. Now they have received a research grant from the Robert Koch Institute.

Source: bounlow-pic/Fotolia

"Certain characteristics of our environment such as fast food restaurants, lack of sports facilities and a lack of green areas can promote obesity," said Dr. Werner Maier. He is deputy head of the research group "Quantitative Methods in Health Economics" at the Institute of Health Economics and Health Care Management (IGM) at HMGU. Within the framework of a feasibility study, the researcher, together with his colleagues Dr. Michael Laxy and Christoph Kurz, plans to identify adipogenic environmental influences which may be relevant as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Afterwards the research team wants to clarify to what extent these parameters can be mapped using geocoding services such as Google Maps or OpenStreetMap. The aim is to obtain detailed information about the spatial pattern of our built environment and to map potential diabetes risk "hot spots".

For his "Feasibility Study to Include Information on the Adipogenic Environment from Free Geocoding Services in the Surveillance of Diabetes Risk Factors" within the framework of the project "Support and Development of External Data Sources to Ensure (Establish and Develop) National Diabetes Surveillance", Maier has received a research grant from the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin. The project is being carried out exclusively at the Helmholtz Zentrum München.

Maier and his team hope to contribute to the development of a national diabetes surveillance system with new data. "At the same time, regional diabetes prevention measures, also with regard to the allocation of resources, can be implemented in a more targeted way," the scientist added.