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UC San Diego Statement in Support of Asian Communities Impacted by Shootings in Atlanta

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Eating Disorders

Health Tracking Apps Provide a Worrying Pipeline to Eating Disorders. Better Tech Design Can Fix That.

Image Credit: Getty

In an email to The Swaddle, Design Lab member Elizabeth Eikey discuss her research into the behaviors of women with eating disorders who also used weight loss apps.

“Users go through stages of use and report both positive and negative effects of the app at these various stages,” Eikey writes. “As users reflect back on their journey, they talk a great deal about the negative effects of the app during the early stages of use. However, when they first began using the app, they often did not realize their behaviors were indicative of an eating disorder and even found the app helpful.”

Even though Eikey’s research states that some users could self-motivate themselves to recover with the help of the app, the fact that the app pushed them towards or exacerbated an eating disorder is damning enough.

Eikey explains that disordered eating and unhealthy weight loss practices are common, and therefore cannot be ignored as a fringe problem that doesn’t affect the majority of an app’s user base. “Even if a person doesn’t meet the ‘threshold’ for a clinical eating disorder, that doesn’t mean that they never experience negative emotions related to their body and food. Everyone has mental health, and it fluctuates,” she says.
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Healthcare Biases

Researchers Receive $2.8 Million Grant to Study Hidden Biases in Healthcare

“The project seeks to use social signal processing (SSP), a computational approach that detects subtle cues in behavior that are typically invisible. For example, talk time, interruptions and body movements from health care providers might differ based on a patient’s race, gender or socioeconomic status.” - Nadir Weibel, Design Lab Faculty

Individuals have their own inherent biases. Most are harmless – preferred foods, favorite cars, go-to streaming services. However, biases tied to race, gender, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status have serious consequences.

This is particularly true in medicine. Unintentional, hidden, biases may perpetuate healthcare disparities. While providers are not acting out of malice, these attitudes could have significant impacts on patient care.
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UCSD Design Lab Fingerprint Biometrics

How many billions are the last billion’s biometrics worth?

Kidprint is a research project run out of the Center for Health at the University of California at San Diego’s Design Lab, which developed the ION device to provide identification for very young people to enable effective immunization and early childhood health checks. The KidPrint research team has achieved functional true acceptance rate of 99.9 percent enrolling and authenticating children as young as 3 days old with ION, KidPrint project lead Eliah Aronoff-Spencer told Biometric Update in an interview.
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