Monday, September 16, 2013

Ignore Obesity Research in the News, Please

Today there is yet another study demonstrating a decline in obesity in children. Here is the actual study and here is a news report.

This follows reports from several weeks ago that obesity among preschoolers was falling.

This on top of the most recent F as in Fat report, which emphasizes greater obesity in the South.

Let's get a few things straight:

Reporting obesity prevalence based on self-report is bad science.

Reporting obesity prevalence based on non-representative samples is bad science.

All reports of state comparisons are bad science.

In the United States, no matter what anyone tells you, we do NOT have any idea what the actual prevalence of obesity is by state. We have ONLY ONE survey that allows us to make good estimates of total prevalence of obesity, and it will not allow state-level estimates. Most states do not have good systems to estimate obesity prevalence within their own state.

Please, for the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, just stop reading news reports about obesity prevalence. We have no idea if it's improving or getting worse.

I have no idea why the journals don't send me THESE articles to review, but I would definitely have them temper their language. I've kept a few from getting out there, but I don't get to review everything. Even if I did, I can't control the press releases. There is lots of good obesity research. Unfortunately, the news seems to only pick up the small fraction that is bad science.

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