Foursquare knows how Americans eat. The social networking service allows members to digitally announce their locations -- "checking in" at bars, shops, museums and restaurants. All that info on where we like to dine may help give some insight into our food environments, in the form of a new ranking of cities with the healthiest diners -- and the eateries to accomodate them.
The company's research team looked at cities with more than 500,000 overall check-ins; in other words, cities that have an active Foursquare user base. Then they calculated the percentage of the residents' check-ins to restaurants and food shops over the past year that could be categorized as "nutritious": things like famers markets, fish markets, salad shops, and juice bars. Cities with the highest ratios of nutritious food-related check-ins were deemed the healthiest.
The results show some patterns. For example, California cities account for four of the top ten cities. And many of the cities are perennials on healthy city rankings (hello, Burlington and Honolulu), boasting active, slim and healthy residents. But it's important to note that the results are far from scientific. Restaurants were counted only when they were checked into on Foursquare and, to do that, a user needs to have a smartphone. According to the latest data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, only about 45 percent of cell phone users use such a device. What's more, Foursquare users tend to skew young. So even though it's interesting to note how these cities rank against one another for their residents' healthy eating habits, we can only draw conclusions about how Foursquare users like to break bread.
Is your city on here? Should it be?
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