GIS Identifies Trends in Heart Disease, Cancer, and Diet in the U.S.

Nutrition & Food Science, Volume 39 Issue 1, 2009, pages 59 – 69

P.B. Brevard and K.R. Brevard

Purpose – The purpose of this study is to explore relationships between cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer (CA), and diet using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping techniques to investigate spatial trends.

“Design/methodology/approach – Databases containing CVD and CA deaths are listed by state in the USA; databases containing state food consumption statistics, therefore, were sought. Available databases indicating dietary patterns were used to create spatial maps of the USA using ArcGIS (ESRI, Redlands, CA, version 9.2), to visually show trends in relationships among CVD, CA, and diet. Correlations and linear regression were used to determine statistical relationships among variables.

“Findings – Maps show visual relationships between CVD and CA death rates, and a statistically significant positive correlation (r=0.765; p=0.0005) was also found. Southeastern states have the highest death rates for both diseases. Negative correlations were found between CVD and CA deaths and household expenditure for nuts (r=-0.525; p=0.0005 and r=-0.526; p=0.0005, respectively), and CVD deaths and fruit and vegetable intake (r=-0.423; p=0.002). Household expenditure for nuts was a predictor of CVD (ß=-0.469, p=0.002) and CA (ß=-0.490, p=0.002) deaths.

“Originality/value – These trends indicate a need for further research on diet and these diseases, and for state-wide dietary studies to facilitate research using GIS mapping. Food consumption patterns, especially nuts, may be related to CVD and CA death rates. Southeastern states should be targeted for nutrition intervention and education programs.”