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Researchers Use Maps to Study Obesity
Detail: When obesity researchers at the University of Pennsylvania were looking to prevent obesity among schoolchildren, they turned to an unexpected group of experts: mapmakers. The university's Cartographic Modeling Laboratory got to work, drawing maps of the neighborhoods around five Philadelphia elementary schools. What resulted were not ordinary street maps. Rather, they were maps showing "food opportunities."

Using handheld computers as they walked about, the mapmakers charted every pizza shop, corner store, deli and vendor that beckoned to students as they went to and from school.

"Are they walking by fried chicken and doughnut shops on the way to school, and mom-and-pop stores that only sell chips and sodas, or are they walking by fruit stands?" said Dennis Culhane, co-director of the Cartographic Modeling Laboratory.

The lab is making maps with unusual details to answer a variety of questions about the effects of people's physical and social environments.

See website for full story by Susan Fitzgerald
Date: May 29 2005