Tableau Public: Interactive Obesity Data On The Web

The viz below uses Tableau Public and allows visitors to explore differences in food consumption and food/soda taxes based on obesity rates in the US.  Notice the dramatic differences in soft drink consumption among populations with different obesity rates.  At first glance, it appears that cutting back on sodas is our best bet for reducing waistlines!

By selecting different obesity ranges, one can observe that soda taxes tend to be low in states with high obesity rates.  Just check out Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina.  Low soda taxes also occur in states with low obesity rates, so it would be premature to conclude that soda taxes are a good way to reduce obesity. Another interesting observation about populations with the highest obesity rates: general food taxes are high while soda taxes are low. Is this encouraging soda purchases over food?

Of course there may be issues with the underlying data as I explain here.  I do not know this data well enough to draw definitive conclusions from it. Besides, this post is more about illustrating how we can move beyond static charts & graphs when discussing issues on the web. By the way, using the icons at the bottom of this viz, you can download this data and even change the cursor behavior so it will zoom in on a particular area on the map.

Here are a few tips for using Tableau Public to share your data:

  • focus on one issue per viz
  • decide how to guide visitors into exploring your data
  • include only relevant data and create an extract
  • determine how much display space you have
  • first set the display size in your Tableau workbook – here are some tips
  • then design your viz within that space
  • beware of borders and shading – they may look very differently in a web browser
  • preview your viz & make sure everything works as planned
  • keep it simple and have fun!

If you are using a blog with a theme, be sure you know how much display space your theme allows.  If you use an HTML editor like the one in WordPress, make sure to paste Tableau’s HTML code into the HTML section of the editor, not the visual editor. I found it best to add the Tableau HTML at very end before publishing/updating the post.

Happy authoring and exploring.  Please shoot me a note with your comments.


Although based on USDA data, the data set in the above viz comes from Tableau and can be found here:

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