Massive Health’s App Data Proves It: People Eat More Junk Food at Work

Yesterday we told you about The Eatery, a new iPhone app from San Francisco-based Massive Health. The app lets users snap photos of their meals, rate how healthy they are, and get a reality check on those ratings from other users. While the app is designed to be fun, it also has a serious point—if people are more aware of what they’re eating, they’ll eat better (at least in theory).

Well, The Eatery is shaping up as a viral success story. In just the first 48 hours since the app’s debut in the iTunes App Store, users have shared 200,000 meal ratings, according to Massive Health intern Andrew Rosenthal. “It’s addictive,” Rosenthal says. “That means we have a big data set about what people are eating, and what they and other people think of those meals.”

Along with the photos and ratings, Massive Health collects location data, which means it’s already gleaning some interesting insights about where people are when they submit meal photos, and how those locations correlate with the ratings. Specifically, it’s looking like people eat less healthy meals when they’re at work.

The heat maps below, shared with Xconomy by Massive Health, show ratings from people in New York City and San Francisco. Unhealthy meals are in red and healthy meals are in green.

See all those red areas in the SoMa and Financial District areas of San Francisco, and the mid-town and downtown areas of Manhattan? It’s a sign that people are loading up on burritos, potato chips, and soda at work.

That’s not the most surprising finding in the world, perhaps, but it’s interesting that Massive Health was able to gather a data set like this in just two days. “With people from around the world rating meals, it turns out that we have some data that nobody else has,” comments Rosenthal. And as the data piles up, who knows—it could make interesting fodder for nutritionists, epidemiologists, or marketers.

The maps are interesting for a second reason as well. They illustrate exactly where early-adopters in the mobile app world—the people who are likely to download and use an app on the first day or two after its release—tend to congregate.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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