Health, Wealth, and Pretty Graphs

February 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

This fascinates me, both the visual layout of the project and the content presented (not to mention how intrigued I was by a stats lecture. Good design = engaged learning):


He’s so optimistic about the progress the data shows – and it is amazing progress. But what strikes me most is that Africa is pretty much invisible and has been for 200 years. As much as global health and wealth have increased dramatically – and we have the hope of continued improvement – Africa still lags furthest behind. 200 years ago, they were the poorest and unhealthiest, and much of its countries remain so today.

I’m also surprised that African and indigenous tribes’ life expectancy and health weren’t higher to begin with. These populations were more isolated and untouched by the diseases, chemical technology, and altered foods prevalent among Europeans and Americans. Perhaps by the 1800s, these changes had already been introduced to African countries and taken their toll. Or perhaps indigenous populations were hardly large enough to affect the data.

It’s interesting to note that later data shows American health (I’m equating health with life expectancy, which maybe doesn’t always work) at a high level even though we still consume a ton of chemicals and processed food and we struggle with obesity, diabetes, etc. You would think our representative bubble would have stalled rather than continued to jump.

So yes, Mr. Optimism, perhaps someday we will all make it to the “healthy, wealthy corner,” but how long will it take African countries?

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