It’s easy to see that the characterization of District of Columbia as “one of the skinniest states” may not be accurate. You just need to look at a map. I’ll discuss how I got here below the images.
For a little orientation, Ward 1 includes Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, and Mount Pleasant. Ward 2 is where the White House and center of the Federal Government is; it includes Dupont Circle, and Georgetown. Ward 3 includes, Tenleytown, Friendship Heights, and Chevy Chase. I live on the border of Ward1 and Ward 2 (and it’s gorgeous, by the way, as are all the Wards). Ward 8 includes Anacostia. I’ve never been there.
The median household income of Ward 3 is $71.875. The median household income of ward 8 is $25,017, 33% of its residents live below the poverty line.
DC Ward 7 and 8 have higher obesity rates than the most obese state in the union (Mississippi). They resemble West Virginia more than they resemble Colorado.
My glass-half-full nature and love of Washington, DC are fairly apparent (it’s my 3 year DC-versary in a week…) and one of the pieces of information I’ve mentioned here several times is our apparent low obesity rate -we rank third lowest in the nation.
Here’s a list of just a few data sources that characterize DC as “one of the skinniest” states. I’ve done it, too.
- Driving is why you’re Fat (infographic) – Good.is
- Adult Overweight/Obesity Rate by Sex – District of Columbia – Kaiser Family Foundation State Facts (not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente)
- F as in Fat 2010 District of Columbia Ranks Third Least Obese in the Nation – Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
- Fattest States – Creative Class Blog
- Calorie Lab’s Annual Obesity Map (CDC Data) – CalorieLab – Quote: “Connecticut was the second skinniest state, with the District of Columbia third, with its three-year average obesity rate actually falling by 0.8 percent from last year.”
- Flashmobs are for Dancin’ (in DC) – This blog
The problem with the data is that it hides the real problem.
While people may criticize social media for leading people astray from the facts, this time it provided information to look beyond the press releases.
My first indication that something wasn’t right was in this post, where I published a nice data visualization from JESS3, which showed a relatively low obesity rate (from the national data above) with a high poverty and food insecurity rate. I called this a “paradox,” looking at the diagram, but actually it’s not a paradox. Something’s not right in Washington, DC, and the graphic points to it, indirectly. I didn’t figure it out at the time of the post, but I did think something could be wrong…..
Another post in August on the WeLoveDC blog led to a comprehensive look at DC’s obesity situation, the Washington, DC Obesity Report and Action Plan (the first ever), and the facts are contained within, as well as information about physical activity (in the map above), access to healthy food, recreation facilities and the like.
If you’ve read this far to read about the connection to Electronic Health Records and Personal Health Records, I’ve decided to break this topic up into two blog posts, so I’ll write about that in my next post. In the meantime, feel free to reflect on the data and what the national pronouncements mean next to the information; see if you agree that many of us didn’t understand the information correctly. Thanks for Web 2.0 for making sure the conversation never ends.
*Note, I looked and did not see any copyright notices on the Washington, DC report, so I am assuming these images are public record, if they aren’t, anyone reading this can let me know.