Exploring the Spatial Association between Obesity and Selected Underlying factors among Adults in the United States

Xinyi Ye


Obesity and diseases caused by obesity in the United States have become critical issues in the population. Existing literature has identified a number of factors that play roles in the progression and development of obesity. However, these studies tend to focus on smaller geographic regions and single factors in obesity. Under this context, this research aims to investigate the obesity pattern and its associated factors at the national level from a spatial perspective. Based on 2017 obesity rates at the county level, this study first explores the overall spatial correlations of obesity using Global Moran’s I and the geographic clusters of high/low obesity rates in the contiguous US. Furthermore, this study employs OLS to identify what socio-economic factors and health indicators are statistically related to obesity in general, then applies the spatial error and geographic regression models to reveal the spatial associations between obesity and those factors.

The findings revealed a clear spatial pattern of obesity in this country. Higher obesity rates were observed in the southeast, especially in Mississippi and the neighboring states. States in the west tended to have lower obesity rates. Local hot spots were revealed predominantly in eastern Mississippi, South Carolina, and West Virginia whereas clusters of low obesity rates were primarily observed in the West, around New Jersey, some parts of Texas and southern Florida.