NOTE TO READERS: When this project lost substantial funding at the end of 2018, I lost the ability to continue publishing criteria-driven news story reviews and PR news release reviews - once the bread-and-butter of the site going back to 2006. The 3,200 archived reviews, while still educational, are getting old and difficult for me to technically maintain on the back end of the website. So I am announcing that I plan to remove these reviews from the site by April 1, 2021. The blog and the toolkit - two of the most popular features on the site - will remain. If you wish to peruse the reviews before they disappear, please do so by the end of March 2021. After that date you may still be able to access them via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine - https://archive.org/web/.

More than everyone in the world will be obese

Posted By

Tags

I love Carl Bialik’s “Numbers Guy” column in the Wall Street Journal and last week he had another gem, headlined, “Obesity Study Looks Thin.” Excerpt:

In 40 years, every single American could be overweight, according to a recent study. Employing that same logic, 13 out of every 10 adult Americans by then won’t have landlines.

The phone forecast is impossible, of course, but it’s arguably no less solidly grounded than the obesity forecast. The weight projection uses three data points spread out over nearly three decades to estimate a linear trend — then brazenly draws that line into the future.

The result: 86.3% of American adults will be overweight or obese in 2030, compared with 66.3% by the government’s latest estimate. By 2048, the percentage will reach 100%. The study doesn’t go beyond that date, but that upward trend would reach logical impossibility the following year.

“Extrapolations are dangerous,” says Donald Berry, chairman of the department of biostatistics at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. “Especially dangerous is to assume that trends are linear. Otherwise we’d conclude that Olympic swimmers will one day have negative times, there will be more Internet users than people, and more people on Earth than molecules in the universe.”

The problems with obesity are bad enough and clear enough. They don’t need a boost from statistical sensationalism.

You might also like

Comments

Please note, comments are no longer published through this website. All previously made comments are still archived and available for viewing through select posts.

Comments are closed.