What Makes People in One City Fatter Than Those in Another?

More

Obesity rates vary considerably across cities and metro areas because it's strongly linked to economic development and other factors.

Image: Shutterstock

Charlotta Mellander and I examined the obesity of cities in a 2011 study in which we also looked at smoking across metros. Our research employed both correlation and multivariate analysis to shed light on the factors associated with obesity across metros. As usual I remind readers that correlation does not imply causation, though our multivariate analysis controls for a wide range of factors.

Basically, we found that obesity is not just a health problem, but strongly linked to the economic development and human capital structures of cities and regions.

Education levels also play a role. Obesity is negatively associated with the share of adults that are college graduates (-.47).

The kind of work we do factors into the picture as well. Obesity is negatively associated with the share of workers doing knowledge, professional, and technical work and positively associated with the share of workers employed in blue-collar working-class jobs.

Larger metros have lower levels of obesity as well (the two are modestly correlated). This may be a function of less driving and greater walking and biking to get around. In fact, obesity is closely related to the way we commute. It is strongly positively associated with metros where more people drive to work alone (.52) and negatively associated with the share of people who bike or walk to work (-.41).

Read the full story at The Atlantic Cities.

Jump to comments
Presented by

The Atlantic Cities explores the most innovative ideas and pressing issues facing today’s global cities and neighborhoods. By bringing together news, analysis, data, and trends, the site is an engaging destination for an increasingly urbanized world.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

'Stop Telling Women to Smile'

An artist's campaign to end sexual harassment on the streets of NYC.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In