The weighty matter of independence

A close up of a map

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A close up of a map

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On the left, Yes/No vote in 2014. On the right, obesity prevalence. See a kind of correlation? By no means perfect and with notable exceptions such as Western Isles and Borders but Unionism and obesity to the north and east and to the south and west? I do hope this does not lead to any abusive tweeting.

It wasn’t my idea to try to correlate weight and Unionism but, again, I stumbled across a more rigorous study in England which looked at obesity and EU referendum preferences and thought I’d have wee go myself. Before, reflecting further on the above maps, here’s what Peter Ormosi found.

In June 2016, academic, Peter Ormosi produced these scattergraphs based on 326 districts in England.

A screenshot of a cell phone

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Ormosi explained:

‘On the left-hand side you can see how the percentage of Leave voters decreases with the percentage of adults with healthy weight. The right-hand side plots show that the percentage of Leave voters increases with the percentage of obese adults.’

So, in England, the more obesity the stronger the desire to leave the UK and in Scotland the more obesity the stronger the support for staying in the UK. At first sight, are these contradictory? Or, maybe, is obesity correlating with preferences for a more unequal insular, stay-at-home kind of society and healthy weight correlating with a more equal, getting out and exploring the world kind of society?

Once more, over to you dear reader.

Footnote: Though I have lost nearly 3 stones since 2016, my desire to travel to, say, Australia, East Asia or Mexico has not surged.

Published by johnrobertson834

Retired Professor of Media Politics Not-for-profit independent political analysis

6 thoughts on “The weighty matter of independence

  1. Aha, here we have a classic case of believing a correlation between two things immediately means there is a causal link. For a view on that exact correlation graph please watch Prof Dorling’s lecture (again?!)

    Professor Dorling – lecture on Brexit and the end of the British empire.

    So obesity does not directly relate to the way you vote, but your environment – that has some influence on your weight – could influence the way you vote. Or something else.

    There are some classic examples that you are given in statistics studies to show that a direct correlation has to be backed up by a realistic theoretical causal link before it has meaning. Just saying. Losing weight is not necessarily going to make you change your vote,,, or is it?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, no you didn’t say that, but it gave me a chance to post one of my currently favourite lectures!

        Don’t you pun at me, you know how slow I am on the uptake 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. More than 2 centuries ago, Wee Davy Hume pointed out that a correlation does not imply a causal link. Since he was a Scot the BBC does not recognise this.


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