Healthy, But Failed Math

One sometimes-nice thing about Yahoo is that their home page links to stories that are sometimes interesting. Today, I learned that sitting is bad for your health.

Supposedly, there's a study showing that, independent of factors like fitness or exercise, people who spend most of the day sitting are 54% more likely to die of a heart attack.

"In other words," the article goes on to say, "It doesn’t matter how much you exercise or how well you eat. If you sit most of the day, your risk of leaving this world clutching your chest—whether you’re a man or women—as much as doubles."

Except, of course, that a 54% increase is not a doubling of risk. A 100% increase would be a doubling of risk.

The math error doesn't necessarily change the take away from the study: Don't spend so much time sitting! It does, however, illustrate that even basic percentages can confuse the typical American journalist.