Take health and income data from 200 countries over 200 years. Stir up. Add Hans Rosling‘s distinctive delivery style and a little CGI magic and you have a compelling representation of… the growing health divide between richer countries and the developing world. Sure, from the early 19th century to nowadays, life expectancy has been rising everywhere. But income differentials are now abysmal and the health inequalities are unprecedented. So, ok, this is great television, and this BBC show is all about ‘The Joy of Stats’ and a happy-go-lucky approach to life but, how can we be so positive about “a clear trend in the future [where] it is fully possible that everyone can make it to healthy, wealthy corner”?
CNN’s food blog Eatocracy has joined forces with the popular location-based social networking service Foursquare to launch a new healthy eating campaign. The concept is very simple: people are encouraged to check in local farmers markets to unlock special ‘Healthy Eater’ badges. The mix of emulation and status anxiety motivating most Foursquare users should expose them to nutritionally correct environments. It should also provide CNN journalists with something to talk about (I was gonna say ‘something to sink their teeth into’) for a week-long series dedicated to tomatoes and jovial shopkeepers.
If you detect a little sarcasm in my prose, it is not because of the unlabored definition of health that such intiative seems to promote. CNN might be perpetuating the stereotype that ‘healthy’ equates to ‘fruit and vegetables’. But, as far as social media are concerned, this is as good as it gets when it comes to health information campaigns.