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The National Obesity Observatory (NOO) was established in December 2007 and one of its main functions is to develop innovative analytical and data presentation tools as well as describe and map data on weight status and associated indicators.
NOO is a member of the Association of Public Health Observatories and is sited alongside the South East Public Health Observatory in Oxford. It works closely with a wide range of organisations and provides support to policy makers and practitioners involved in obesity and related issues.
The charity’s stated mission is “to improve the lives of people with diabetes and to work towards a future without diabetes.” Two central areas of its work supporting this mission are campaigning and information provision.
NOO has access to large amounts of data at primary care trust (PCT) and local authority (LA) level from various sources. It wanted to find a way of bringing the data together and therefore avoiding the duplication of effort in preparing reports. It also was interested in finding a way of presenting the data so that it could be easily interpreted.
Meeting the need
Using InstantAtlas NOO has created a set of e-atlases; these tools enable users to examine data on obesity, its determinants and associated diseases for adults and children. The child e-atlases include National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) data for 2008/09. NOO is continuing to develop these interactive tools, adding more indicators and functionality.
Caroline Ridler, Senior Public Health Intelligence Analyst, South East Public Health Observatory says that most of the users of the e-atlases are PCTs but she believes anyone interested in obesity will find them helpful.
Making the project work
NOO carried out a stakeholder survey to find out how useful the reports are and feedback has been positive. The way the e-atlases are used has also been tracked using Google analytics which has revealed worldwide interest -mostly from universities and government departments in the US and in Europe.
Processing the data and making sure it has been quality checked still takes time but the team have found InstantAtlas easy to use and the different templates that are available have been useful.
NOO is planning to add more indicators to the e-atlases and will continue to update current indicators. The team is also aiming to make the tools easier to use so that it is possible to download data rather than having to make a specific request.
Thomas and the team plan to follow up in a couple of months to evaluate use of the maps. The intention is to widen the presentation to include other themes. The North Denmark Region takes part in a nationwide health survey
which is carried out every third year to evaluate the health status of the population. It is likely the team will make the data from 2010 and 2013 available in the same format using InstantAtlas.
Other benefits are:
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INCAP - "How data presentation is helping health ministers in Central America target intervention programmes."