Infographics: Obesity in America


This morning, I found 3 infographics depicting obesity in America.  The first one comes from NPR and is called “Obesity In America, By The Numbers.”  The second is from my favorite infographic website, Daily Infographic, and is called “Being Overweight Costs More.”  The third infographic from Chart Porn is called “We Are FAT” but is actually a link to an interactive map from the Center for Disease Control.

Examining all 3 will show you similar facts.  You can visualize that 25 years ago, we weren’t an obese population.  From the early 1990s to today, the country had an average BMI of 10-19%.  In 2010, 12 states had a BMI of greater than 30%, and 24 additional states had a BMI of 25-29%.  You can visualize that now, in present day America, 72 million people are obese.  That is 1 in 3 or 72 million Americans.

David McCandless tells us that successful information design should contain integrity; interestingness; form; and function.  So let’s analyze each of the 3 infographics on obesity in America to see which is the most successful data visualization.

Image Credit

The Daily Infographic was helpful because it was comprehensive, but it was also hideous.  The structure, beauty, and appearance – the overall form of the infographic  – was seriously lacking.  Similarly, the CDC infographic from Chart Porn would not be useful in all situations because it is an interactive map needing a “play” button.  The function was lacking because of the ease of use, usability, and fit: this map cannot work in every presentation situation.

So we are left with NPR’s exquisite “Obesity in America.”  It’s comprehensive.  Integrity is clearly represented by the source material below the data.  NPR took the CDC information and made a side-by-side comparison using an appropriate color scheme.  NPR’s infographic has interestingness and form because information is presented in a new, meaningful way with repetition, gorgeous color, and attention to visual presentation design.  Lastly, it is the easiest to use because it requires no “play” feature or clicking of “forward” and “back” buttons.

Which infographic did you like the best, and how did it fulfill the requirements David McCandles has set for good information design?


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