- eating too much salt gives you high blood pressure
- most obese people get diabetes
- eating sugar makes you sick
- all obese people will eventually get sick
Answer: They are all untrue.
Some are exaggeration:
Large-scale scientific reviews have found that people with normal blood pressure have no medical reason to reduce their salt intake. Some (but not all) people with high blood pressure are “salt sensitive”. For those people lowering sodium intake could help, but they could also choose to eat more potassium since it’s actually the balance of those minerals that is the important thing.
In the pursuit of health well-meaning (and not so well-meaning) people can have a tendency to exaggerate, speak in generalities and repeat things without verifying them for themselves.
These things get repeated so many times that they become myths – the media writes about it (because “Salt Shown to Cause Hypertention” is a much sexier headline then “In some people with hypertension decreasing salt or increasing potassium may help”) then people can say “I read in a magazine…”. Doctors exaggerate to scare patients or repeat myths because they don’t know any better and then patients go out and tell people that their doctor told them… The diet industry will say almost anything to get us to buy their products and they’ll repeat it millions of times. Next thing you know some jackass is telling me how my diabetes is going to cost them their tax dollars and even if they are open to a teachable moment I have to overcome a mountain of misinformation.
People say that being obese is harmful to society but I really think that the real harm is coming from the confusion of correlation and causation, the pursuit of public thinness instead of public health, massive misinformation campaigns by the diet industry, and myths spouted by people who don’t know any better – and some who don’t want to know any better.
Access is a major part of health. That includes access to a wide variety of foods, access to safe movement options that you enjoy, and perhaps most importantly, access to true and correct information about our health. Unfortunately the last piece can be the most difficult, so I think that it pays to questions “everybody knows” statements, do research and make our own decisions.