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Data Story: Exploring the Relationship between Obesity and Physical Activity

Many residents of Massachusetts are struggling with obesity. Although it has many causes, one of the important steps for maintaining a healthy weight is getting adequate physical activity, which can be encouraged by public recreation facilities and programs. This data story explores data about obesity rates in Massachusetts, and other data that may be useful for leaders considering creating or expanding public recreation opportunities in their community.

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This visualization is a scatterplot, which shows the relationship between three variables. The percentage of adults who report not exercising in the past month is shown on the X, or horizontal axis. The percentage of obese adults in each municipality is shown on the Y, or vertical axis. The points are shaded according to whether the municipality has a public recreation program. This scatterplot highlights the strong relationship between physical activity and obesity in each community. Some of the communities with high obesity levels have open spaces which might serve as physical activity resources, but not public recreation programming. Starting or improving public recreation programs, as well as changes to the design and management of public open spaces, may help reduce obesity in these communities. Explore the graph to see what other factors may be important to consider in this analysis. Although they are plotted together, these communities have different racial, ethnic, and economic characteristics that should be taken into account when evaluating residents’ health profile. The next visualization will show one way of categorizing these communities: community types.
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