Australian fatties hit new heights: Obesity becomes national epidemic

Two articles appearing within four days of each other (this one and Aussies on health kick present quite different pictures of the state of Australians' health. They should be considered together and perhaps could be a starter for discussion in a Health and Physical Education class as well as a Mathematics class. The article demonstrates well why a degree of statistical literacy is needed by all students who will make meaningful decisions about their life styles.

Students should discuss the different perspective of the two articles which allow for different conclusions to be drawn. Specific discussion in this article could focus on how the claim about the increase in weight of a gram a day for the 'average' Australian could have been calculated.

As the weight of Australians increases so will the average weight; hence speaking of people being above an average weight would not be telling the correct story. The noted increase in the overweight and obese categories of people indicates that these categories are defined in absolute terms. If these do not change, it is possible to imagine a scenario where the entire population is categorised as overweight or obese!

Where to next?

Student Questions for this article
Newspaper article
Index - Related articles
Index - Inference
Numeracy in the News - Main Index