The Healthiest Eating Cities In The World

The Eatery app has enough self-inputted data about people’s dining habits that it can make some bold claims about where people are eating the best and worst in the world. Hint: Cheesesteaks aren’t so great for you.

The Healthiest Eating Cities In The World
Flickr user VideoVillain

When health startup Massive Health first released the Eatery, a simple iPhone app that asks people to take pictures of their food and then rate other people’s pictures based on their healthiness (kind of like a Hot or Not for food), it was hard to gauge its potential impact. I knew from talking to the Massive Health team that the startup had ambitions in the health care technology space beyond this one app, but I wasn’t sure what those ambitions were. This week, Massive Health released a set of data extracted from the Eatery. It will, according to Massive Health cofounder Aza Raskin, inform the design of future products from the company. “If we want to change the way people live, we have to understand them,” he says.


Here are some of the statistics from the Eatery’s hundreds of thousands of users (check out the full infographic below).

  • People in different parts of the world have somewhat strange proclivities. For whatever reason, people in San Francisco eat a whole lot more brussel sprouts than everyone else. New Yorkers eat more arugula, and Philadelphia residents eat more bagels. Sao Paulo residents eat more beans. Guess which city shown in the infographic is unhealthiest based on overall Eatery food ratings? (It’s Philadelphia.)
  • People eat 1.7% less healthy after each hour that passes in the day, presumably as their willpower erodes. That means breakfast is usually the healthiest meal, while dinner is the unhealthiest.
  • Eatery users eat 12.4% less healthy than they think they do. The less healthy a food is, the less accurate users rate it for themselves. A user might rate their recently eaten slice of pizza as being pretty healthy, but judge a slice of pizza eaten by someone else as unhealthy.
  • Copenhagen is the healthiest city in the infographic based on Eatery use, followed by Sao Paolo, New York City, San Francisco, Tokyo, and Philadelphia.

Raskin has few doubts about the validity of crowdsourced data. The crowd, he says, is better at counting the number of jelly beans in a jar than an expert. The same is true with stock market predictions.

Just five months after launch, the Eatery is affecting the eating habits of its users. According to Raskin, users ate 8% better (based on crowdsourced food rankings) after 30 days, and 11% better after three months. “It’s addicting. People will take a picture of their food and rate 20 or 30 other pictures after,” he says.

Raskin stresses that Massive Health is not a mobile app company, though it will continue making mobile apps. The company also isn’t just about food; in the future, it will expand into other health-related areas, including stress, exercise, and sleep. Raskin won’t reveal any details, but he does say that he’s heading in the direction of something that “feels like a tricorder.”

Stay tuned in the coming days for more infographics from Massive Health’s data collection. The full graphic of Eatery’s data is below:

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.