Sociologists have shown that rates of “obesity” correlate with economic class. That is, the poorer you are the more likely it is that you will be overweight.  This is, in part, because healthy, low-calorie food tends to be more expensive that calorie rich, nutrient poor food; and also because poor neighborhoods have fewer grocery stores, forcing the poor, especially if they don’t have cars, to shop for groceries at corner stores, gas stations, and fast food restaurants.  When there are so many other things to worry about, like not going hungry, food quality is not prioritized.  Level of fitness, then, correlates with social class (and the time and money it affords you) and the things that correlate with social class, like level of education.

The American College of Sports Medicine has released data showing these correlations, if measured at the level of U.S. metro areas, as reported at The Atlantic and sent along by Tracie Hitter, a doctoral student at New Mexico State University.  First, fitness level is correlated with average income in these areas:

Second, fitness level correlates with average level of education (here called “human capital”):

And fitness level correlates with overall well-being, a measure related to both fitness and socioeconomic class:

Here are some selected metro areas plotted in relation to one another:

Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.