Obesity and Educational Attainment


So it turns out that perhaps the previous investigation into SNAP and SAT scores could be extended a bit. It’s at first unclear the intermediate effects of socioeconomic status that could possibly lead up to the final effect of inferior academics and education (or if there’s a causal link at all), but deeper investigations into some other factors might give us some insight into this problem. Perhaps health and nourishment are two of those crucial factors.

This might be an overly-broad analysis, but I took a look at obesity data state by state1, and compared them to the percent of people who graduate with bachelor’s degrees in that given state2. Here are the percentages mapped:

Initially, it is already evident that there is a correlation between the states with higher levels of obesity and the educational attainment status of that given state. This is highlighted especially in a scatter plot (note the R-squared on the trendline, signifying a moderate correlation):

Maybe this is just a coincidence, or maybe this comes as a trivial factor to some (I certainly do not think it’s a trivial correlation, but maybe there is some overarching influencing factor––like socioeconomic status, that is influencing both these measures at once), but this is certainly some insight into what eventually effects the educational outcomes as a group. Health and nourishment is definitely a plausible aspect. The next goal would be determining how we can ameliorate these two factors, and investigating the causal link between those two.

Here are some research papers that most definitely analyze this issue more than I do:

  1. This was found compiled into a dataset on data.world, and the original research data comes from the CDC.
  2. Compiled on Wikipedia, the data is originally from the US Census Bureau. Somehow, data from Tennessee is excluded. This is why it is shown as greyed out on the map. Data from DC, Alaska and other regions are also included, however.
  3. Does a better education lead to lower rates of obesity or do lower rates of obesity and generally better nutrition lead to better education?
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