Friday, April 19, 2013

Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Cholesterol: Can you Spot Which One Doesn't Belong?

In my last post, I gave some reasons why Coloradans have a low rate of obesity (assuming they really do, and I think that's true).

Here's more evidence that we're less obese, but more importantly, that obesity and heart disease are associated with diabetes. (Everyone say it with me: association is not causation.) No, but looking at these maps makes you go " there a real connection there?" (Hint: type 2 diabetics tend to be overweight, and high blood sugars are hard on arteries and other tissues.)

US map of diabetes rates

National maps.
Source: Center for Disease Control

Curious about high cholesterol by state?

It doesn't look like the other maps, does it? No light, healthy stripe down the Rocky Mountains or ominous dark cloud from the Mississippi Delta up to Pennsylvania and down to Florida. For the first three maps, culture, race and poverty, and maybe even minerals in the soil look like they might be factors. But what do Hawaii, Alaska and New Mexico have in common? Or Nevada, Michigan, and West Virginia? Please leave a comment if you can think of anything. 

The map looks a little cheesy because I had to make it myself. There are a gazillion maps out there of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, but there were none for high cholesterol by state. (Hmmm, I wonder why!) I even had to search (and search, and search) for data of high cholesterol by state. (Hat tip to Google Gadgets for making this home cartography project possible, and for instructions.) Data are from The Centers for Disease Control, "Prevalence of persons aged >/=20 years ever told by a health care provider that they had high cholesterol, among adults ever screened for blood cholesterol, by state, area and year, Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System, United States, 1991-2003." (I used the data from 2003.)

Feel free to copy the high cholesterol by state map:


Lowcarb team member said...

Hi Lori
I think the sad fact with obesity, diabetes and other related health issues is that more and more the younger age groups are being affected. At one time it was the 60+ age group, but now it is those in their 20's+ (and sometimes younger)that are also getting diagnosed. Is it because of the increase in sugar in our diets, many sugars 'hidden'? Perhaps lack of exercise doesn't help.Perhaps we shouldn't blame just one issue? Perhaps .. perhaps .. but we do owe the younger generation more than the legacy we are giving them.
Just my thoughts.

All the best Jan

Lori Miller said...

People have made good arguments for poor diets, lack of nutrients, anti-depressants, and auto-immune conditions, but this (and the fact that others have looked so hard for the total cholesterol-heart disease connection) suggests knocking down total cholesterol levels won't help.

And yes, it's said that so many more young people now are so unhealthy.