The Guardian: Lies, damn pies and obesity statistics – We're NOT a nation of fatties

ATN-300InsightaaS: The Guardian is one of the world’s most respected news sources. Founded in 1821, it has stayed relevant by providing in-depth analysis of both local (UK) and global issues. 

We last featured content from The Guardian on October 6. Given the richness of perspective found on the web, it’s very unusual for us to feature any source more than once in a month, but today’s post raises an issue that we expect will arise many more times in the months and years to come. Most of us are familiar with the old saw “lies, damned lies and statistics,” which is attributed to Mark Twain (Twain himself attributed it to Benjamin Disraeli, but that reference has not been proved). With Big Data, we are in a position to examine the factual underpinnings of conventional wisdom (CW) – and it may well be that CW is not supported by the data and stats. I’ve seen this dynamic play out in baseball, where the sabremetrics movement reshaped how baseball performance is evaluated, and in the process, changed perceptions of the relative skill levels of well-known players. The Guardian’s example of obesity statistics in the UK may be as esoteric as advanced baseball statistics are for most ATN readers – but the notion that Big Data can end up challenging CW may lead some IT and data management professionals to consider communications strategies as they reshape ideas of how markets behave, and change perceptions of the relative capabilities of their own organizations…

The messaging cannot be any clearer. We, like much of the developed world, are in the midst of an obesity crisis caused in large part by eating too much.

Our super-size culture of fast food, sugary drinks and junk diets is turning us into a nation of over-sized and unhealthy slobs with expanding waist lines and it’s getting worse.

For example, according to a recent report from the National Obesity Forum, by 2050 more than 50 per cent of the UK population will be obese, at an annual cost of more than £50bn. It all sounds incredibly grim, and with headlines warning us that “sugar is more addictive than crack cocaine”, there is now increasing attention being paid to sugar and carbohydrates as the prime causes of this precipitous rise in obesity levels.

Dig below the surface, however, and this neat little narrative begins to look rather suspect…

Read the entire post on The Guardian’s website: Link



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