Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Health of Metropolitan Areas

The American Fitness Index (AFI) is a program of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) developed to "provide an evidence- and science-based measurement of the state of health and fitness at the community level throughout the U.S." They have created an interactive map of the 50 largest US metropolitan areas showing their rank from most to least healthy.

The map above shows the overall rankings but you can also see different sets of rankings for personal health (percent with asthma, diabetes, etc.) or community health indicators such as access to recreation areas. The categories used for this study are somewhat subjective so if you're from Oklahoma City (last place) you can find reasons to rip the study apart while Minneapolitans (#1!) praise it.

You can click a city to see its "strengths and challenges."
 Some interesting facts include Cincinnati, ranked 13th overall but #1 in community health and #38 in personal health. The indicators show that while they have lots of parks, recreation opportunities and farmers markets they also have higher rates of obesity and other medical conditions and less than ideal eating, smoking and commuting habits.

The map is fairly crude with some bizarre shadings that vaguely hint at the patterns of the data (lighter colors in the north, darker in the south and lower midwest) and some of the city locations are pretty bad. Also, Kansas City comes up as being in Kansas (which it is) when you click the map but Missouri (which it also is) in the indicators window. This is somewhat sloppy cartography but not enough to earn a "bad maps" label.

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