Some people are distrustful when statistics are thrown around, but I find that statistics can lead you in the right direction if you treat them like a puzzle, instead of an answer. When it came to the “obesity epidemic” there was this neat little narrative, where they’d line up statistics* in a row but rarely reference the numbers to each other.
So… if 60% of the population is overweight how is it that only 8% of the population has diabetes? Or how come 85% of diabetics are obese (out of 8% of the population) but obesity can be found in 30% of the population? If you look at the the numbers in a row, they just don’t add up.
There was a missing piece in this puzzle. I kept thinking, “How many obese have diabetes?”
I spent a year looking for that number. Turns out, only 18% of obese have diabetes. While it’s true, compared to the 6% of normal weight and 11% of overweight, that obesity is correlated with a greater absolute risk of diabetes than other categories of BMI, this clearly shows that most fat people don’t have diabetes.
The things to remember here is that correlation does not a cause make. I’m just looking at the question, “Do more fat people than thin people have diabetes?”
Trying to sort out if losing weight or never getting fat will stop the onset of diabetes is a separate discussion. Whether or not fat causes diabetes or diabetes causes fat is another discussion. The fact that slightly more fat people than thin people have diabetes is just a correlation that can point the science community towards research that needs to be done.
I’m not anti-science or anti-health… I’m anti-spin. I’m against public health policy makers using heavy-handed tactics to push forward an agenda. It’s not the statistics I mind, it’s the sneaky part that bothers me.