IBM Corp. has a launched a major multi-year research program, called SPLASH, to link and analyze huge amounts of data to better understand how to improve human health.

The program initially will focus on preventing childhood obesity. Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM recently explained the program to 150 participants during its annual Almaden Institute event at its research lab in San Jose, Calif., as the company begins to seek SPLASH partners from a wide variety of sources.

The initiative will combine and analyze data that hasn't previously been integrated to simulate the cause-and-effect relationships between agriculture, transportation, city planning, eating and exercise habits, socio-economic status, family life and other factors that can cause childhood obesity. The goal is to predict real-world reactions that influence human health to provide recommendations of actions to take or avoid.

For instance, incentives to bring a health food retailer into a town, or incentives to bring grocery stores near transportation hubs, or expanding bus routes in an area with a high concentration of dual-income families, could reduce the connection between obesity and the eating of processed foods, according to the company.

More information on the SPLASH initiative is available at

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