Mapping Spread of Obesity [Chart Critique and Alternatives]

Over at Flowing Data, Nathan has published an interesting visualization about spread of obesityTake a look at it here:


While the above chart is quite interesting, it doesn’t offer much insight in to the data. There are a few drawbacks,

  • Understanding obesity trends for a given state over the years is hard due to the layout and format of the chart.
  • Finding which states are experiencing most obesity growth rates is not possible
  • Ironically, the chart itself is obese. It takes too much space to explain the data.

Nevertheless, the chart looks cool and can be reused with smaller data-sets (quarterly trends or just for a few years). So let’s recreate the same in Excel. While we are at it, let’s also build an alternative visualization to explore the obesity data.


Spread of Obesity – Chart Critique, recreation and alternatives – Video

Please watch the below video to learn how to recreate the grid map in Excel. You can also see an alternative chart to analyze this data. You can also see this video on our YouTube Channel.

Download Spread of Obesity Interactive Excel Charts

Click here to download the spread of obesity Excel chart workbook. Play with slicers & form controls to analyze the data. Examine the formulas in Calc worksheets to learn how this is put together. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, try to make your own chart with the data. Share your charts in the comments section so we all can learn from you.

Related: Learn more about Maps in Excel – Monthly Master Class.

Do you like the grid map or alternative?

I like the alternative, it gives you many powerful ways to analyze the data and find interesting trends. What about you? Which one do you like? Please share your thoughts and suggestions for improvements in the comments section.

Some more charts for you play with…

If you like this chart, here are a few more you will love.


Hello Awesome...

My name is Chandoo. Thanks for dropping by. My mission is to make you awesome in Excel & your work. I live in Wellington, New Zealand. When I am not F9ing my formulas, I cycle, cook or play lego with my kids. Know more about me.

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11 Responses to “Mapping Spread of Obesity [Chart Critique and Alternatives]”

  1. Diarmuid says:

    I like the info density on your chart, and that it's easier to see the trend within one state, but I also think the original format captures something that's hard to see in yours, which is the trend across regions (e.g. it's easy to see that rates are higher in the middle of the country, perhaps especially in the South).

    I think the more interesting story in the data is (i) the regional split, and (ii) the overall national trend, both of which are easy to pick out visually in the original. This is scary data, by the way!

  2. Justin says:

    I am sure this would look even better using the map add on in excel with a slider

  3. fredt says:

    All this is nice but useless. Obesity is a result of overeating. Overeating has multiple causes, of which ignorance of this is just one. Comfort eating to ease the discomfort caused by the ongoing abuse in the media is one more. Thank you for your concern.

  4. Jason Morin says:

    My gut instinct tells me to put the obesity rate for each state on a process behavior chart to see what's happening. For example, if you do this for males for GA (my home state), you quickly see the following:

    *The rate rapidly ascended between 1996-2006
    *The rate has been steady from 2007 to present; all you see is routine variation

    What happened in 2007 to cause the obesity rate to level off and stay steady for 8 years?

  5. Edgars says:

    Has somebody created a Europe's map for this? I need to do the same analysis for Europe.

  6. Drew Mery says:

    I created a version in Power BI that incorporates both Yau's and Chandoo's approach. Check it out here on the Data Stories Gallery:

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