[BLOG] Correlation vs Causation

Hi lovelies, long time no post! I am ever so sorry.
It’s been fairly busy with the course at MNU and my little Intermittent Fasting trial!

I’ve started a new project called Tweed Science Nutrition 101 for my You Tube,
hence I will share the project on this blog as in a written format too.

The very first topic of this project is about…

 

Correlation and Causation

Knowing the difference between correlation and causation is very important for the times when we find information about nutrition and diet, as well as other subjects.

Let us have a look at the deifinitions of each concept.

Correlation is a mutual relationship or connection between two or more things.*

So an example of correlation would be a string attached to A and B.

 

Causation, on the other hand, is a relationship between cause and effect.**

So an example of causation would be a string attached to A and B, with an arrow. In this case, A would be a cause and B would be an effect.

 

So it is pretty clear what the differences are between these two.

However, some information sources, including the media, creates confusion for us by drawing their own arrow on the string.

 

 

Once upon a time…

 

I have made up a story for you to understand how I mean by “drawing own arrow” here:

there was a recently published study suggesting that there’s a positive association (correlation) between oranges and weight loss – and Mr. Brown, who’s a Personal Trainer and a big fan of oranges, manipulated the study’s conclusion and claimed eating oranges makes(causation) you lose weight to his clients, on his twitter, in his newsletter etc.

Susan, who subscribed to Mr.Brown’s newsletter found his newsletter in her inbox; which contained the information about eating oranges causing weight loss. Following Mr.Brown’s advice Susan bought a load of oranges and ate 3 of them everyday on top of what she normally ate. She made no other changes.

Did Susan lose weight? No.

For weight loss it’s always calories in vs calories out. Susan had more calories (~150kcal per day) than her normal calorie intake and did NOT increase her exercise (e.g. swimming) or non-exercise activities (e.g. walking).

Hence eating oranges did NOT cause her to lose weight. If anything, susan would have gained weight.

…I know it is an over simplified story but it shows how we all can be mislead!

 

A Real Life Example: Breakfast & Health

 

It has got to be breakfast, which I wrote in my last blog.

If you eat breakfast, do you become healthy? 🤔

No, not necessarily.

Breakfast and being healthy has correlation between them, rather than causation. Being healthy has lots and lots of other things with which it has mutual relationships, for example:

  • regular exercise
  • eating a variety of wholesome foods
  • getting enough sleep
  • not having a stressful life
  • being keen to be healthy

Breakfast happens to be just one of them.
Please click here to read more about breakfast and health!

 

 

 

I hope this becomes a bit of help for you ask yourself a question “Is it correlation or causation?” when you find information about nutrition.

Thank you so much for reading,
and I will see you guys in my next blog!

H xx