The Impact on Life Expectancy

Life Expectancy vs Climate

Earlier this week I was talking to Rebekah who mentioned that she was wondering if people in colder climates might live longer than people in warm climates. She said people in colder climates might not live as long because the colder weather might hinder immune systems during sickness. But on the other hand, those people might live longer because pathogens and microbes don’t live as long in colder climates. This got me thinking and of course, that brought on some research.

Life Expectancy Vs Temperature
Life Expectancy Vs Temperature

The initial data was collected from various sources and I found there was actually a 40% negative correlation with a state’s average temperature and their life expectancy. Removing a few of the outliers, there’s a clearer relationship as well. There is a decent amount of correlation present but I’m going to have to wait for Rebekah to work on her theory some more before I believe there’s any sort of causation between the two. We will need a way to strip some of the other variables present that have a known effect on life expectancy.

Life Expectancy vs Obesity

lifeExpectancyVsObesityMoving on from the climate I turned to something that should be much more obvious, especially after reading  a few articles. I gathered the obesity rate of individual states and then compared that to the life expectancy of each state and found a glaring trend, states with higher obesity rates have shorter life expectancies. What’s even more surprising to me is just what percentage of America is not just overweight, but obese. It’s incredible that the US has such a high standard of living and it’s self proclaimed greatest health care system but roughly 1/3 of it’s population is obese.

Obesity vs Median Income

Median Income Vs Obesity Rate
Median Income Vs Obesity Rate

There’s numerous studies that make a link between a persons income and obesity, so again we can back up these findings with our data from the state level. This isn’t exactly a perfect correlation as some of the states with around a 28% obesity level have widely varying incomes. But one thing that is clear, the most obese states have the lowest median income levels, and states that have high obesity rates have high median income levels.

Life Expectancy vs Median Income

Median Income Vs Life Expectancy

Continuing with the correlation levels, it makes complete sense that states with lower median incomes will have a lower life expectancy, and in addition an even bigger impact on it’s Human Development index.

Median Income Vs Human Development Index

On my final thoughts, kids are often the products of their parents; on how much they make, or their likelihood to be obese. There are certain genetic and medical reasons that may cause a person to be obese, but the main cause is over consumption of food and lack of exercise. For reference, in 2012, 18% of kids aged 6-11 were obese, and 21% of 12-19 year olds were obese in the US. When it’s ultimately up to the parents how much and what their children eat, perhaps there should be restrictions or incentives for parents to raise healthy children, although I’m not sure why putting their children at a greatly increased risk of health problems isn’t enough incentive.

Correlation Matrix

Correlation Matrix

Data Sources

Compiled Data – combinedData

Life Expectancy – Measure of America

Obesity Data – The State of Obesity

Median Income – KFF

Temperature – Compiled by Current Results from NOAA Data


Today I Learned – A New Section

Inspired by this post on Hacker News, I’ve decided to start my own Today I Learned, or TIL, repository. Each day I’ll be tweeting out a TIL with a short snippet of the premise and a link to the article or explanation. I don’t have any rules of what will qualify for a TIL other than being interesting and thought provoking.

My latest TIL tweets can be found on this page.