I came across an advertisement for the movie The Thyroid Secret, which claims (sic caps):

[Shocking] 1 in 3 Americans Have Thyroid Disease And Are Often Told That They are Crazy, Fat or Lazy, When In Fact They Are Just Sick. A 34-Year-Old Rebel Pharmacist Takes On The Broken Healthcare System To Reveal Why You Might Be Overweight, Tired, Depressed and Anxious and Why Your Doctor Can't Help You, Even If They Know You Have Thyroid Disease.

After a preliminary search, I have a couple of possible counter-claims:

If the Colorado experience can be generalized, there may be in excess of 13 million cases of undetected thyroid gland failure nationwide.

More than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. [emphasis mine]

So, a quick google search indicates that perhaps 5-12% of Americans might have a thyroid disease, not 33%.

Is there evidence to support the claim that actual rates of thyroid disease approach 1 in 3 for Americans?

  • 1
    This largely depends on who you ask and how you define thyroid dysfunction.
    – user11643
    Feb 20, 2017 at 19:38
  • @fredsbend Sure, I guess. Technically they say "disease," so I'd expect whatever Americans supposedly have to be in the family of "thyroid disease". With a definition out of the way, the true rate actually doesn't depend on who one asks. It's a statistic about a population (n/total). There are various ways of estimating the statistic, and an answer could cite any of them and we can all see whether that rate approaches 33%.
    – Hendy
    Feb 20, 2017 at 20:13
  • 1
    That's exactly my point. People saying 30% might be using a broader definition then people saying 12%. I see this kind of thing all the time, then sites like this appeal to an authority and simply dismiss others as wackadoos.
    – user11643
    Feb 20, 2017 at 22:48
  • Well, I'm fat and lazy and it's certainly no fault of my own, so it must be thyroid disease. That's all the evidence I need.
    – Michael J.
    Feb 21, 2017 at 22:35
  • @fredsbend But that's my point too. An answer can define it as needed/as found. Someone claims that "75% of Americans are poor." Fine print: "Poor means income <= $1 million/year." The community can read that answer and make their judgement. I'd hope that for thyroid disease the definitions are a bit more strict than this, but if the claim is that "thyroid disease" = "feel sluggish for the first 30min in the morning" an answer can just explain this and each reader can decide if this makes them "wackadoos."
    – Hendy
    Feb 22, 2017 at 4:23


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