Sunday, September 30, 2007

Overweight = Uneducated?

A while ago I saw this study by the CDC that said that 2/3 of US adults are overweight, and then broke it down by state with this map:

My first thought was to see how this map would overlap with a red-blue map of the electoral voting from the last presidential election:

As you can see, there isn't really a significant overlap, as most of the western US outside of the coast is very red politically, but doing relatively well on the overweight front.
So I went looking for other colored US statistical maps and found one, breaking down by county, the percentage of the population with "less than 9 years of education". It from here, and appears to include at least 1st grade as a "year of education", so basically people who didn't complete even one year of highschool
I've put it next to the first map for comparison (click to enlarge).

Now this was a striking correlation. To be politically incorrect, the swath of fatties ranging from Texas across the gulf states into Appalachia lines up nicely with the dummies.
(Of course years of education doesn't necessarily = intelligence)
If were a real blogger, I would try to come up with some insights into the correlation between lack of education and high percentage of overweight population.
But I'll just stick to the pretty pictures and short-attention-span posts.

One thing that's notable above is that while voting predominantly Republican, the residents of the Rocky Mountain states and western plains are relatively educated and not overweight. go figure. :)


EuroTrippen said...

I don't know, I'm overweight and I've had a pretty damn good education. And Jim's overweight, yet he's got an advanced degree in microelectronic engineering that's taken him far. I've known lots of smart fat people and lots of dumb fat people... ditto for skinny.

And I'm so liberal even the democrats look at me strange... heh

Alex said...

Well first I should clarify that the colored graph was actually on % of the population that is obese, which is defined clinically differently than "overweight".

And yes, I agree, it's not something you would put together from basically personal experiences. That's why I was struck by the correlation when looking at the larger sample size of entire population as a whole. I guess my thinking was going in the way of lack of education, and we're talking LACK of education, like not even any high school, may lead to misinformation about nutrition, proper diet, exercise, the dangers of obesity as relates to health issues, and a general awareness, which would also get propagated through generations not emphasizing education. And this in terms of the population, I'm not saying that just because one person is obese means that they don't know that it's unhealthy.

Of course they could also be unrelated, I'm just noticing the similarities in the maps.

ann_ona_moose said...

What does a match up with a poverty map look like? (I know - there's a tie in there to education as well- and no tie in to B.!)

Alex said...

Here's a poverty map:

Looks actually pretty similar to the education map. (and also the obesity map).
Remember this is like lack of EARLY education, like not even getting to high school, etc. I guess it makes sense that a lack of education leads to an increase in poverty.
And you could envision ways in which poverty leads to a higher incidence of obesity,

rawia said...

there's an overwhelming correlation between poverty and poor primary health care. preventable diseases (like obesity) are underaddressed in poorer areas. the u.s. in that regard, is no different than developing countries. i'd wager that the areas with obsesity also have higher incidences of infectious disease. also, there are some interesting studies about the lack of grocery stores and access to healthy food in poorer areas, and the preponderance of fast food restaurants and convenience stores which obviously also leads to obesity. the problem is that we still try to solve problems one at a time instead of looking at the situation holistically. it's cool that you're looking at the relationships between all of these things.
(whee. this is the first i've ever responded to anything on a blog!)

Alex said...

(whee. this is the first i've ever responded to anything on a blog!)

Not to take away from your insight on the rest of the post, but

a)Welcome to the internets. heh.

b)The first time is always kinda awkward. but now you'll want to do it more and more.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.