Evidently it was Benjamin Disraeli who said it first, or at least made the saying famous about using statistics to tell only one side of the story.
This study from Gallup/Healthways is just the latest example of using statistics to obfuscate the reality surrounding (bad pun) obesity in America. We all know it is going anywhere but down. The evidence is all around us. Yet a study, featuring a random telephone sampling of 90,000 Americans with “self-reported” data can be used to tell an outright lie.
First of all, the people completing the telephone survey could have obviously lied or at least fudged (I know, another bad pun where obesity is concerned) the truth in detailing their height and weight. I know if I were to telephone nine or 90 or 900 people, a good sampling of them would wildly under-report their weight while over-reporting their height. Wouldn’t you?
Quite simply, the headline for this article should have read: Lying about weight up slightly by Americans; telephone survey of 90,000 confirms.