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Social Networks and Community (Re)Engineering: Creating Health Through Information and Policy

[email protected] Series (more info below) Social Networks and Community (Re)Engineering: Creating Health Through Information and Policy April 15, 2011 Presented by Dr. Peter Meunnig. As health costs skyrocket, life expectancy in the United States is in a relative decline. Three decades ago, the United States was in the top ten countries with respect to life expectancy, and health costs were in line with other nations. Today, the United States has fallen to 49th place with respect to life expectancy, but its health costs are now more than double that of the next most expensive nation, Switzerland. Dr. Muennig will discuss some of the cutting-edge approaches to improving the health of Americans. At the forefront of public health policy is the idea that people's health behaviors can be shaped by a confluence of their physical and social environments. For example, a bike lane does much more than reduce barriers to biking to work. It normalizes the notion that exercise is desirable and beneficial. Public health departments have long attempted to facilitate these social norms by targeting advertisements to thought leaders, much the same way that Apple targeted hipsters in making the relatively more expensive iPod the socially acceptable standard for owning an MP3 player. However, governments not only hold the power to advertise and educate, but also physically change the communities that people live in. Exercise campaigns can be coupled with parks, bike lanes, and public transit systems. Sugar taxes can be combined with cleaner public water systems and campaigns promoting personal water bottle use. The idea of integrating polices and actionable changes to social networks is untried, but holds great promise. Dr. Muennig will discuss the implications of these ideas for information technology, and point to some ways that Googlers can become critical players in saving lives. About the Speaker: Peter Muennig is an Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He oversees over $2 million in research grants, and he has published over 55 original research studies in venues such as the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, and the American Journal of Public Health. His work has appeared multiple times in the New York Times, National Public Radio, and televised media outlets, such as CNN.
Length: 55:37

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