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Obesity - An Epidemic with Unexpected Causes, Consequences, and Complexity

Author(s): Edward Freeman

St. John Fisher College

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This dataset was collected from interviews conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State by state data are provided to explore the interactions of education, income, and race/ethnicity with obesity.

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 07 Aug 2020 doi:10.25334/AZ1T-J504 - cite this


In this activity, students will explore the interaction of obesity and socioeconomic status. The background reading material will demonstrate that obesity is a complex disease with several contributing factors and no easy solution. Further, students will be introduced to the idea that obesity is a disease that leads to numerous other diseases. Students will populate data tables with figures from a curated version of the CDC’s Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity - Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data set. From these data tables, students will generate graphs to visualize the relationships between education level/income level/race-ethnicity and obesity for a single US state of their choosing. Students will use their graphs to answer questions and will share their results with two or more students to compare patterns among states. Students can then engage in a class-wide discussion to consider why levels of obesity are variable among states and how socioeconomic status correlates with obesity.

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