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In hard times, there’s at least one thing the federal government has a surplus of: data. A new program called the Community Health Data Initiative makes any federal government healthrelated data set available to anyone with access to the Internet at HealthData.gov.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued a challenge to techies about a year ago to design apps to utilize all that information. One result was an online game, communityclash. com, where you compare the healthiness of your city. You’re dealt a hand of fi ve cards relating to community health statistics — how many people eat no fruits and veggies, how many are uninsured, to name a couple. You can swap up to two of your cards for another metric to optimize your results before your opponent’s hand is revealed.

So far, all I can get is “Seattle Wins!” every time I’ve compared the Lilac City to our big brother to the West.

It’s a little depressing (in fact, Seattle even beats us on “Major Depression”). The good news is that by knowing how we compare, maybe we can start to make some changes. In Daniel Walters’ News story on the elevated suicide rate here, for example, we learn that not talking about the problem isn’t helping. By facing up to our challenges, we can begin to overcome them.

And be sure to have a look at our special section on the health issues of the tween years of 9 to 14 — certainly a challenging time of dramatic growth and change.

To Your Health!

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