This chart is trying to trick you

⚠ Warning: this chart is lying to you!

🍬 The original chart in this example is trying to suggest a strong correlation between sugar intake and obesity in the US between 1980 and 2000. It does so by carefully choosing the vertical axis ranges and scaling so both lines nicely fall on top of each other.

But with a closer look we can see something else is going on. Sugar intake levels are rising by 30% (from 85g to 110g), while obesity prevalence is rising by 164% (from 14% to 37% of the population). For an accurate comparison, these lines shouldn’t nicely align at all!

I’ve created two redesigns to present some better solutions for this visualization. In redesign 1 we focus on a presentation which is as truthful as possible, comparing the data with the recommended intake level, and enabling an accurate estimation of the prevalence %.

In redesign 2 we focus on showing how much faster the obesity prevalence has grown compared to the sugar intake, which has remained relatively stable.

Depending on the message you want to bring, one presentation might be preferable above the other. But in any case, manipulating your vertical axes to suggest a strong correlation which might not be there, is not very nice!

Still struggling with telling a strong visual message using truthful charts? Find out how we can help you, or reach out to us directly.

Read more:

Books on a bookshelf - infographics resources

Data visualization resources: all the links you’ll ever need!

You want to start creating clear and attractive data visuals, but don't know where to start? No worries, here's a complete overview of tools, resources and inspiration you can use as a starting point for your designs.

More info

thumbnail for video 01 - why is data visualization so powerful

Why is data visualization so powerful?

The amount of data coming our way is growing exponentially. In 2021 alone, it is estimated that humankind generated 74 zettabytes of data – that’s about 10,000 GB per person. How on earth are we going to keep this manageable?

More info

Amazing facts about the brain - teaser

Infographic: Amazing facts about the brain

Did you know that our brain makes up 2% of our body weight, but consumers about 20% of our energy? Did you know that we have a second brain, located in our gut?

Our information designer Sofia made this insightful infographic, giving you an overview of eight amazing facts about the brain!

More info

Birthday heatmap

How common is your birthday?

Not all birthdays are created equal... in fact, for most countries in the north temperate zone, more people are born in summer (May - August) than in winter (October - January). This heatmap allows you to check how popular your birth date is. It shows the number of people in Belgium for each specific birthday.

More info

Visualizing complexity by Superdot: interior

Visualizing Complexity: Dataviz book review

Visualizing Complexity is a great new data visualization book published by information design Superdot. Here's our verdict.

More info

Books on a bookshelf - infographics resources

Research visuals: all the resources you’ll ever need!

If you want to start creating clear and attractive visuals about your research, but don't know where to start, this page is for you! Here's a complete overview of tools, resources and inspiration you can use as a starting point for your designs.

More info

We are really into visual communication!

Every now and then we send out a newsletter with latest work, handpicked inspirational infographics, must-read blog posts, upcoming dates for workshops and presentations, and links to useful tools and tips. Leave your email address here and we’ll add you to our mailing list of awesome people!