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Area graphs for feeding practices

This question was posted the Infant and young child feeding interventions forum area and has 2 replies. You can also reply via email – be sure to leave the subject unchanged.

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Alice Burrell

Nutrition consultant

Normal user

24 Jun 2015, 13:02

I wonder if anyone can help me - I am trying to produce an area graph for breastfeeding practices (EBF/ BF with water/ BF with other milks etc) from survey data and cannot work out how to do it without a very lengthy process of counting practices for each month of age. I am using Stata and Excel, so if anyone knows how to produce one on either of these programmes I would be very grateful for the advice!

Mark Myatt

Consultant Epideomiologist

Frequent user

25 Jun 2015, 10:51

I find area charts quite tricky to read.

Stacked bar chart with bars at each month and no space between the bars might be easier to read.

Anyway ... I assume you have an age variable in months (let us call it age) and a variable that codes for milk as (e.g. 1 = EBF, 2 = BF with water, 2 = BF with other milk, 3 = Other milk, 54 = No milk) - let us call it milk).

If you do not have such a variable (e.g. you may have one Y/N variable per milk type) then you can make a new variable from existing variables.

Here I use R (it is what I know) but the process should be the same in STATA or SPSS or Epi-Info or SAS or ...

Make a table of age (rows) by milk (columns) and plot the table:

   plot(table(age, milk))

or (the other way round and plotting counts):
   barplot(table(milk, age))

You can just take the able of age (rows) by milk (columns), import it into Excel (you may be able to copy and paste), and plot the data as a stacked bar chart (data in rows). Most spreadsheet packages will plot so all categories sum to 100% or plot counts.

Is this any help?

Alice Burrell

Nutrition consultant

Normal user

25 Jun 2015, 14:17

I agree that they are hard to read - but it seems a standard way to present this data.

This was really helpful Mark thank-you! I now have an area graph :)

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