Friday, July 08, 2011

Obesity in America Map from Ball State University Libraries

Growing Pains: Obesity in America Map

According to a report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, obesity rates in the United States have climbed at least 90 percent in 17 states from 1995. Nine of the ten states with the highest obesity rates are in the South, with Mississippi leading at 34.4 percent, followed by Alabama and West Virginia. These states also lead the nation in diabetes and high blood pressure, showing how obesity rates can be related to other health issues and healthcare costs.

The above maps (click to enlarge) are from the Penguin State of the World Atlas by Dan Smith available in the Ball State University Libraries’ GIS Research and Map Collection (GRMC) and Atlas Collection. The maps show the percentage of adults who are obese. In the 1996 map, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent. Five years later in 2001, only Mississippi had a rate over 25 percent, but many states had crossed over the 20 percent obesity mark. And in the span of ten years in 2006, only Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Colorado remained below 19 percent.

These maps clearly depict the growing problem of obesity in America, and also show how maps can be an important visual aids for explaining data. Maps offer an excellent way to communicate complex data visually. The GRMC developed an online guide about using maps and atlases as visual aids for academic papers and presentations on the Digital Map Resources section of the GRMC Research Tools Web page at

For more information about these maps or using maps in presentations and papers, please contact the GRMC at 765-285-1097 Monday through Friday.

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