More than two thirds of adults and a third of children in Calderdale are overweight or obese.
These shocking statistics are why technology giants IBM have come to Calerdale to trial a new project.
Experts from the American company have begun working with organisations across the borough to see how they can use data to help tackle Calderdale’s weighty problem.
Tim Pavlick, one of IBM’s expert team, said at the project’s launch event this week: “There are significant health problems in Calderdale, and in some communities length and quality of life are particularly bad.
“The question is: how do we use the richness of data we’re all starting to collect to tackle that?”
In the past, IBM’s charitable arm has worked with communities across the world to solve healthcare problems.
These include a project in Birmingham, Alabama, where they helped develop a plan for mobile food markets. This improved nutrition in areas of the city where fresh, healthy and affordable foods were scarce and prevented future health problems in the region.
Now, IBM will use similar techniques to analyse why people in Calderdale have a hard time staying healthy, and work with the council to make a plan of action.
Over the course of three weeks, IBM will combine information from the Council; the NHS; Public Health England; Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group; Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust; Sports England and West Yorkshire Sport with their world class expertise in data analysis.
Tim Swift, leader of Calderdale Council, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us, and our partners in sport and health, to get a better understanding of the reasons why people don’t, or can’t, do more exercise.
“It might be down to a lack of childcare; time; cost or self-confidence, so the findings should tell us what we can do to help.”
IBM will use their new super computer, called Watson, to help analyse the enormous amounts of information it collects.
Watson is artificially intellegent, meaning it learns as it goes along. It has already been used in the healthcare industry to health improve care for patients with cancer, and will help IBM join to dots to find out what needs doing in Calderdale.
Coun Swift said: If we can understand more about who exercises and who doesn’t, and what actions we can take to encourage more people to exercise, then we can use our spending more effectively.”