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Socioeconomic characteristics, lifestyle and health in US

Obesity and diabetes are major public health problems in many countries in the World. The interaction of several factors, including socioeconomics characteristics of the population, access to food services, food consumption, and lifestyles among others impacts on both health problems. Interaction among obesity and diabetes determinants is a theme for research and  analysis in order to evaluate intervention programs and orient public policies to improve population health.

US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has collected a core set of indicators, which are accessible and documented in the Food Environment Atlas. We have used these data to produce an interactive visualization to explore the situation of obesity and diabetes in Unites States of America.

  United States of America health, weight and lifestyle

According to this data set, in United States the median of adult diabetes rate is 9.5% and adult obesity rate is 28.5%. When these figures are analyzed by the indicator persistent poverty counties, diabetes rate is 1.27 times higher in persistent poverty counties and obesity is 1.14 times higher in that group of counties. The distribution of both health problems by States shows remarkable differences across the country. States with obesity and diabetes rates above the national median rates present high proportions of persistent poverty counties, such as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. It is notable that the group of persistent poverty counties by State presents consistently higher Obesity and Diabetes risks.

Healthy activity was included in the analysis through the use of two indicators: Recreation and fitness facilities per 1,000 population, and the ERS natural amenity index. A chart of small multiple scatterplots were used to analyze relationships between Recreation and fitness facilities per 1,000 population and adult diabetes rate, and adult obesity rate, breakdown by persistent poverty counties and ERS natural amenity index. These charts show that population groups that live in better natural environments and have better access to recreation and fitness facilities tend to decrease obesity and diabetes risks. Persisten poverty counties have consistently higher rates of diabetes and obesity.

The detailed situation within a State in the national context can be explored selecting the state of interest on any of the top views of the above visualization. For instance, Alabama has 22 out of 67 (30%) persistent poverty counties. Adult obesity rates are 31.6% and 37.0% in nonpersistent and persistent poverty counties respectively, and both groups of counties have 3% and 9% absolute differences above the national median. Adult diabetes rates are 11.7% and 14% in no persistent and persistent poverty counties respectively, and both groups of counties have 2% and 4% absolute risks above the national median. Regarding the natural amenity index, 29 counties of Alabama are in the category of slightly below average, 38 counties in the category of slightly above average and no counties in the rest of categories. It is apparent a very low availability of recreation and fitness facilities with vales under 0.68 per 1,000 population.

Persistent poverty is a strong determinat of the diabetes and obesity in adults in US. This finding suggests to develop specific intervention programs to persistent poverty counties with focus on poverty groups of population.    

Explore by yourself and find new insights on how socioeconomic characteristics of the population, environment and lifestyle impact on diabetes and obesity in US.

For more information, contact Martinez, Ramon (WDC), Health Information and Analysis (PAHO/WHO).

 
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