The internet has made it possible for people to share news and information they find relevant, without ever having to go through traditional channels, according to a study by a group of researchers.
In the study, published in Science Advances, researchers used the internet to gather and analyze data on the health of people who use the site.
The data was used to build a predictive model that projected how health will change in the future as the internet becomes more widely used, said co-author Chris Wood, a health and biomedical engineering PhD candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The internet is also helping to identify and connect health professionals to the information that patients need, Wood said.
He and his colleagues used data collected from over 3,000 patients at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and from nearly a million online users who participated in the study.
The researchers used that data to predict which types of health problems are most common in the US.
They found that obesity was the biggest health problem, followed by high blood pressure and diabetes.
The study also found that people who used the site to post their health problems had the highest rates of obesity and diabetes, compared with those who did not.
Health care professionals have also noticed that many people are taking to the internet more than ever to share information.
This is especially true of people with chronic conditions, like diabetes or obesity, said Wood.
“We need to be able to talk to people about the things they are going through,” he said.
“And this is one way we can do that.”
Wood said he hopes his work will lead to more research and new ways to make health information accessible to people.
“I think we can look at these health problems as a health issue, but also as a social problem,” he added.
Wood and his co-authors are looking for other researchers to contribute to the study and to help expand its scope.
They have set up a Kickstarter page to raise money for the study that has already raised more than $10,000.
The team is also working to expand the dataset to other countries to better understand the impact of the internet on health.
The next step is to determine whether the results of the study are predictive of future health problems, the researchers said.