physical activity


Fatter And Fitter: 20 Years Of Health Stats (Also, Mass. Men Lag)

To play around with this interactive map by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, go to

To explore this interactive map by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, go to

Massachusetts men, forgive the nag but it appears that you’re not all doing your part for the health of the state and the nation, not to mention your own wellbeing.

The quants over at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington have just released a great data dump on changes in the nation’s health stats from 1990 to 2010, and they sum it up with this headline: “Obesity continues to rise in nearly all counties but Americans are becoming more physically active, too.

I’ll get to the men on the couch, but first the daunting news for women: In many American counties, women are not living any longer than they did 25 years ago. Why not? Is rising obesity offsetting any other health gains?

Dr. Christopher Murray, the institute’s director, told reporters by phone that there are two possible explanations: smoking and obesity.

It could be that obesity is having a bigger effect on women, he said, and it’s known that the timing of tobacco effects differ for men and women:  “Tobacco had its biggest impact on men a couple of decades ago,” he said, “and we’re now seeing the peak [effect]s of tobacco smoking on women three or four years ago.”  Those are “two pretty clear associations we see in trying to understand this differential pattern for men and women.”

Now for the Massachusetts men:  On that fun interactive map, if you set the sex to “male” and the display to “Physical activity (change)” and then scroll over Massachusetts, it will tell you the percentage change in the prevalence of “sufficient physical activity”: Overall, American men are down .5%, and Massachusetts men on average are down 1.3%.

Women, on the other hand, are looking like fitness goddesses: Continue reading