BIOEF MIDAS Digital Story
Childhood obesity has become a major health problem in Europe and across the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the prevalence of obesity nearly doubled between 1980 and 2008. In the WHO European Region, one in three 11-year-olds is overweight or obese. There is a growing body of evidence confirming that the increase in childhood obesity is associated with the appearance of comorbidities previously considered adult diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. All this is attributable to the interaction between a set of factors related to the environment, genetics, and ecological variables, including family, community and school.
The Department of Health of the Government of the Basque Country has identified childhood obesity as a public health problem to be tackled in its 2013-2020 Health Plan, seeking to develop a guideline with recommendations for health professionals, patients, families and community organisations.
Given all this, the Basque research group participating in the European Meaningful Integration of Data, Analytics and Services (MIDAS) project has set the objective of analysing the use of big data tools in the field of public health to improve our understanding of the factors that lead to childhood obesity in the Basque Country and identify areas of intervention to prevent its development. Numerous different healthcare professionals from the Basque Government Department of Health and Basque Health Service are participating in this project through the Basque Foundation for Health Innovation and Research (BIOEF). Other health systems (those from England and Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Finland) are also participating in the MIDAS project, seeking to generate knowledge that will help decision making in public health.
The whole process of obtaining clinical information and its anonymization has been carried out in accordance with the new General Data Protection Regulation. For this, we obtained approval for the research from the Basque Ethics Committee, we undertook a thorough analysis of how to perform the anonymisation, and further, various agreements were signed between BIOEF and the technological partners in the MIDAS project, to be able to access the information necessary for the Basque pilot and develop the MIDAS platform. All these steps have had the goal of ensuring that this public health research is undertaken with adequate ethical and legal safeguards.
In addition to health-related data, we will also use freely available data from Open Data Euskadi, which complement the data held in health records and will help our public health professionals visualise patterns, explore correlations and make forecasts in relation to childhood obesity. One of the key features of this research project has been the identification of the variables of interest. For this, we created a multidisciplinary working group composed of paediatricians, nurses, public health specialists and computer scientists.
Thanks to the development of the MIDAS platform and the data analysis being undertaken with big data tools, we are going to be able to create knowledge that will help us to improve the health of children in our region.
This story tells us about Jonne and his problems. His parents are substance abusers and have mental health problems, which has its effects on Jonne’s growth. The family has no money for hobbies, Jonne suffers from bullying at school, he drifts to bad company and starts using intoxicants. He gets into conflicts with authorities and gets depressed but does not want any help. Only after his second suicide attempt, Jonne is placed in an institution. As years go by there are lots of costs due his situation and care.
There are a lot of information and data about all of us. The data is not an enemy. We can choose the data to be used for good as well. The data can be analysed in MIDAS platform by bringing it together so that we all benefit from it. The aim is that we can react to early signs with these kind of situations. Could the story of Jonne be something else? We should be able to prevent the situations like what happened to Jonne by monitoring the correct measures, and by reacting to the challenges in parenthood, hobbies availability and mental health issues in time. The MIDAS turns the wheel of the young people for better life and adulthood.