America is fat, and getting fatter. This animated map shows how the U.S. has put on weight over the past quarter century, state by state. The map uses data from the CDC (Center for Disease Control), plotted year by year, animated to show how bad things have gotten.
The map, from BodyNutrition.org, shows the percentage of obese people in each state. As you can see, the whole country has gotten more and more obese at a fairly uniform rate.
"Personally I think one of the most interesting aspects of the map is how Colorado has seemingly been an outlier," Ryan Taylor, who represents marketing for Body Nutrition, told Co.Exist, "while their obesity rates increase through the years like the others, it is at a much smaller rate." That’s not to say Colorado is skinny. In 2014, the latest available year for these figures, 21.3% of the population were obese. That’s already far above the worst state from 1990, which was West Virginia at 15%.
And while a rise from the lowest (6.9%) to the highest (35.9%) in just 24 years is already a rather scary trend, it doesn’t look like it will slow any time soon. In fact, the problem is getting worse. "Also surprising is the South—it's looking like one of those states is going to hit a 50% obesity rate much sooner than later," says Taylor.
Right now, the most overweight state is Arkansas (30.9%), which took the crown from long-time champion West Virginia in 2013. Most values, according to the data in the underlying spreadsheet, are around 29%. Back in 1990, the numbers clustered around 11%, which is to say obesity is almost three times as bad was it was back then.
But the U.S. isn’t alone. Between 1980 and 2008, the worldwide obesity level rose from 23% to 34%, with the developing world seeing the worst of it with an almost fourfold increase.
The world is getting fatter, and while that may not worry you if you’re skinny, the associated health problems (diabetes and cardiovascular disease) will affect more and more people you know, and raise the costs of health care. Worst of all, there doesn’t seem to be any quick way to fix things, although there are some good ideas, like taxing sugary drinks and spending the money on parks and physical education.