How diet and lifestyle affect health: evidence in maps

Sometimes picture is better than a thousand words. What if we just look at the US statistical maps for obesity and heart disease and see how they relate to lifestyle and nutrition?

The full maps are shown at the bottom of the page, and if you examine them, you will see that:

  • heart disease rate and obesity are almost perfect overlap;
  • obesity, heart disease and percentage of inactive adults are in very good correlation;
  • obesity, heart disease and soft drink consumption are very good correlation;
  • higher fruit and vegetable consumption in most cases correspond to lower rate of obesity and heart disease;
  • higher meat and poultry consumption usually, but not always correspond to lower rate of obesity and heart disease;
  • solid (saturated) fat consumption does not correlate with obesity and heart disease

Most of these results reflect what we already know: sugar-rich foods are the worst for health.

A noticeable good effect of meat and poultry consumption is in line with research that shows that protein rich diet is best for weight loss and exercise.

It is also interesting, that we cannot see no bad effect of higher saturated fat consumption.

Lets focus on the southeast region. I highlighted and numbered four areas for more careful analysis: San Antonio / Austin Texas (area 1), Mississippi (area 2), Northern Georgia (area 3), and Southern Florida (area 4)

AreaObesityHeart Disease% InactiveSoft drinksFruits and vegetablesMeat and poultry

Region 4 is an exception for meat and poultry consumption, with low meat/ poultry and low obesity. Because this is South Florida, I suspect that people there substitute various fish and seafood for meat. But based on the other three regions, we can see that high meat and poultry consumption is certainly compatible with good health.

I did not use saturated fat for this sub-analysis, because the way it is concentrated on the map (the bottom one) probably reflects higher cheese and milk consumption in North Central states. It doues not show clear correspondence to any other map.

Below are full versions of these maps (taken from and


Heart disease deaths per 100,000:

Percentage of adults inactive in leisure time:

Soft drink consumption, gallons per capita:

Fruits and vegetables, Lbs per capita:

Meat and poultry, Lbs per capita:

Solid (saturated) fat, Lbs per capita

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