Collective behavior in the spatial spreading of obesity

Lazaros K. Gallos, Pablo Barttfeld, Shlomo Havlin, Mariano Sigman, Hernán A. Makse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations

Abstract

Obesity prevalence is increasing in many countries at alarming levels. A difficulty in the conception of policies to reverse these trends is the identification of the drivers behind the obesity epidemics. Here, we implement a spatial spreading analysis to investigate whether obesity shows spatial correlations, revealing the effect of collective and global factors acting above individual choices. We find a regularity in the spatial fluctuations of their prevalence revealed by a pattern of scale-free long-range correlations. The fluctuations are anomalous, deviating in a fundamental way from the weaker correlations found in the underlying population distribution indicating the presence of collective behavior, i.e., individual habits may have negligible influence in shaping the patterns of spreading. Interestingly, we find the same scale-free correlations in economic activities associated with food production. These results motivate future interventions to investigate the causality of this relation providing guidance for the implementation of preventive health policies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number454
JournalScientific Reports
Volume2
DOIs
StatePublished - 14 Jun 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
LKG and HAM are supported by NSF-0827508 Emerging Frontiers, and PB and MS by Human Frontiers Science Program. We are grateful to H. Nickerson for bringing our attention to this problem, and S. Alarcón-Díaz and D. Rybski for valuable discussions. We thank Epiwork, ARL under Cooperative Agreement Number W911NF-09-2-0053 and the Israel Science Foundation for support.

Funding

LKG and HAM are supported by NSF-0827508 Emerging Frontiers, and PB and MS by Human Frontiers Science Program. We are grateful to H. Nickerson for bringing our attention to this problem, and S. Alarcón-Díaz and D. Rybski for valuable discussions. We thank Epiwork, ARL under Cooperative Agreement Number W911NF-09-2-0053 and the Israel Science Foundation for support.

FundersFunder number
NSF-0827508
Association of Research LibrariesW911NF-09-2-0053
Israel Science Foundation

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