Should one formulation be used instead of the other? Are they interchangeable?

For example, which would be more correct:

  • Cheeseburger consumption indicates health issues among the population.
  • Cheeseburger consumption is indicative of health issues among the population.
  • Why use three words when one will do? – John Lawler Nov 7 '19 at 22:42

This is how I interpret the two:

'Indicates' means 'shows', as in 'points out'; it implies the object is of major concern or influence to the subject:

  • "His subsequent line of argument indicates the influence of the Enlightenment philosophers on his perspective."

'Is indicative of' means 'is one of the signs of'; this implies the subject is an example or even a consequence of the object:

  • "The fact that Shelley hoped for a discussion of the issue is indicative of the radicalism of the period in general."

In the case of your sentences, the first one suggests that based on cheeseburger consumption, it can be assumed that there are health issues among the population.
The second one suggests that cheeseburger consumption is a consequence of health issues among the population.

source of example sentences

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