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Friday, February 04, 2011

Indian Women twice as obese as Men !?!

That's the heading of an article on page 9 of the Times of India, Bangalore today. And the accompanying graphic which shows a lady about 4 times the size of the man standing near her sure startled me enough to make me read the article in detail.

What they actually want to say is "Twice as many Indian women are obese compared to number of men!" or that's the best I can make of it - that of course doesn't sound as catchy a headline does it ?!! And even for proving these numbers (I mean, twice as many - really!?) the kind of statistics provided are sketchy at best. They say 1.3% of women aged 20 and above were obese in 1980 and 2.5% in 2008 - for men apparently this percentage stayed at 1.3% all along.

Quoting from the article - "In absolute numbers the number of obese men in India increased from 2.3 million to 4.4 million between 1980-2008" - so how did that 1.3% of men stated above stay constant? The extra 2.1 million obese Indian men were under 20??

I'm sure there's a way to structure the statistics to explain away the article, but does such a sweeping statement really make sense at all? Where do these statistics come from - I understand that it has to be a cross-section and they can't actually take everyone into consideration - but is it really an accurate cross section? Considering100 people in each of 10 metropolitan cities hardly gives a picture of India's women as a whole!!

There are quotes from the senior author of the article who's based in London (of course if it's a study from abroad it has to be right isn't it?) so it would be really interesting for me to know where he and his team got these statistics from. It just irritates me to read these kind of generalizations which just want to sound dramatic and may not really mean anything at all! And the actual headline - it's just wrong - I can't even say its a grammatical error - it's just an error, period.

P.S: Another one on page 15 - "Children of working moms gain weight" - Don't even get me started on that. It's apparently based on a survey made in 10 U.S. cities!!


  1. Uff. Times of India doing what it does best! I have stopped subscribing.

  2. That's the best thing Rohini. I hardly read it any more since it makes me irritated rather than enlightened most days !!

  3. ToI is a rag. Period. I have stopped reading it. During the Babri masjid verdict, I almost went up in flames myself when I read their header which went something like this: "2/3 of land given to hindus, 1/3 to muslims" WTH!!!!!!! How irresponsible and sensationalist can a newspaper be!
    Wait for the B-school placement results for more such unverified, sensational articles.

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  5. @Aparna - Yes of course I remember that one - it was really just provoking and nothing much else. I do mostly manage to avoid it, but have this love to hate kind of relationship and just can't resist browsing through it once in a while to see what they have come up with lately!

    @Raj - Yes sure will read your entry and vote. Hope you have browsed through my entry too :). Your idea about statistics seems to make sense ;).

  6. Really badly written TOI article... THey cant comprehend stats and dont know how to put it across.
    I read the other article as well, thinking to get all rattled up.. ANother very badly written and not researches peice. Its so weird how "irresponisbly wirtten" were both these peices!!!!! aaah

    For me TOI has been the perfect source of masala news.. tis good at that!

  7. Yes TOI is definitely more "interesting" to look at which is why we continue with it I guess ;)

    But reading stuff like this just makes me sooo irritated.