We are bombarded with statistics everyday by the news media, school, and the Internet. The “average number of” this and “high ratio of” that is a fact of modern life. Indeed, much or our lives are guided by what the average person does.

Averages can be useful, but all too often they paint a picture that is different from each of our own individual circumstances. After all, you might be one of those people existing on the edge of the bell curve. And even worse, relying on averages may lead us to misconstrue them as normal.

Just because something is common throughout a population does not mean that this thing is good or predetermined. It doesn’t mean we should accept it as a fact of life, and simply carry on. Perhaps it occurs frequently because on average, our society is pathological.

Here, let’s pile on some more statistics:

  • 42% of seniors report a functional limitation affecting their living standards. [1]
  • 3 out of 10 middle-aged people (ages 45 to 64) become obese. [2]
  • Girls in America begin puberty before age 10 on average. [3]
  • Average U.S. sugar consumption in 1999 was 158 pounds per person. [4]
  • Estimated U.S. cancer prevalence in 2007 was 11,714,00 people. [5]
  • Up to 3 million people are taking statins needlessly. [6]

Average does not equal normal.

Some of my relatives keep waiting for me to get fat. “You’re getting older, just wait!”,  they tell me. Throwing up your hands and exclaiming, “I’m not as young as I use to be!” is not an answer, it’s an excuse.

People don’t become frail just because they are old. People don’t become obese because they are middle-aged. Getting cancer isn’t supposed to be a birth-right. The vision of the modern world isn’t working, and our bodies are rebelling as a consequence. That fact that these issues are so common sheds a light on how big the problem actually is.

Real change won’t happen until the average person recognizes that the current food, lifestyle, and healthcare paradigm is broken, and that is the reason they are unhealthy.

Question the system, don’t just accept the status quo.

Click one of those buttons on the left, and help start the revolution.

Occupy Wallstreet Health.

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14 Responses to Average Does Not Equal Normal

  1. Michele says:

    Occupy Health! What a concept! As a working nurse, I am amazed by the sheer number of people who do not do even the very basic things to care for themselves. I try to pass on tidbits of information, planting seeds, so to speak…however, nothing changed for me until I was in crisis mode and desperate to be and feel different. Then I was lead to the healing wisdom that was out there but I had never known about. I brought my willingness to change, and my discipline to apply healthy eating and exercise to my life and wow, what a difference!
    Nice post! I don’t have to be a victim of the paradigm!

  2. My uncles told me I’d get fat in college. Then after college once I started working. I’m almost 28 now and lighter than I was in college. Whenever they joke about me getting fat, I show them my 8-pack and laugh.

    • David Csonka says:

      Cognitive dissonance man. I think for some folks, deep down they subconsciously hope you’ll get fat because it’ll takes some of the pressure off them.

      The longer you stay thin, the more they have to realize that there could be things they might be able to do to change their situation. People don’t always like having to confront reality.

  3. There are three kinds of lies. Lies, damned lies, and statistics. I do not recall who said this, but it is something that has stayed with me. Statistically, obese has become the norm, and if you are healthy or have a normal body weight and size, you are in a minority. The same thing applies to so called virtues like contentment and tolerance. Having them puts you in the minority.

  4. Scott says:

    Awesome article. I’m reminded of a line from Born to Run: “You don’t stop running because you get old. You get old because you stop running.”

  5. Nguyen says:

    Good stuff David. People so often bad mouth your average person as being stupid or lazy but then go and compare their faults with the average person to justify them. As we all learned in school, just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

    I work in a pretty typical office type environment with a bunch of people who eat pastries for breakfast, fast food for lunch and takeout for dinner and think that their becoming fat was inevitable. They think walking around the block a few times a week counts as exercise and that they’ve tried all they could to lose weight.

  6. Txomin says:

    Of course, you are correct. It is surprising how pervasive is the ignorance of elemental statistics, even in academia.

    It should be said, as a reality check, that if one were to (be able to) compute a complete characterization of an “average person”, finding a living, walking person fitting all those characteristics would actually be impossible.

  7. Lamar J says:

    The more I read, the more I like!! Thank you. Setting expectations of yourself first and leaving others to be average is a fantastic way to achieve true happiness.

    Interestingly, I am on my way to 8.5% body fat from a stunning (clears his throat) 35%ish. I am 65 pounds down and about 15% and people are saying I am going to be too skinny. Stay where you are. I weigh the same as I did 13 years ago but I am stronger and more fit.

    Leave average to other people and enjoy your life, that’s my motto. That and eat more bacon.