obesity rates and the economy

21 01 2010

There was an article in the news this month stating that obesity rates have leveled off.  The article goes on to say “there’s little reason to cheer”, because we might have reached a maximum level of tubbiness.  That is, most Americans are already overweight, so it stands to reason that less people are becoming overweight.  The news headline sounds good, but it doesn’t necessarily mean Americans are getting healthier.

This all depends on perspective (and/or “spin”).  I learned this from watching the news.  See, this whole thing parallels the job market.  President Barack Obama said this month that the labor market is headed in the right direction.  That’s despite another 85,000 net jobs being lost in December 2009.  (By “net jobs” I mean how many were lost after subtracting the new jobs created.)  That means unemployment is still going up.  Yet Obama says it’s getting better because less jobs were lost last month than in most previous months.  See, it’s slowing down.

Of course, the alternate perception (which Obama conveniently ignores in his public statements) is that there will be less jobs lost now because businesses can stand to layoff only so many people and stay in business.   So it has to slowdown.  Just like obesity rates have to slowdown.

(BTW, I realize both issues are more complicated than that.  I’m just making a point.  Both headlines sound good, and the data as presented sounds like things are getting better, and maybe they somewhat are, but they’re also still getting worse.  Perspective plays a large role in how news is presented, and we aren’t always getting a balanced perspective.)




2 responses

21 01 2010

I get your point. It’s all about perspective.

25 01 2010

Another employment/unemployment number that isn’t often mentioned is the fact that 6-9% of actual unemployed people no longer qualify for unemployment benefits and have basically given up looking for jobs and are living off the government welfare programs. If these are added into the national unemployment rate which is around 10%, the real unemployment rate is 16-19% because the jobless numbers we’re given are the number of people receiving unemployment benefits. It’s actually worse than anyone’s saying. As Rush Limbaugh says, “How’s that hope and change working for ya?”.

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