Kudos: Reuters Got the Obesity Trends Right

With all the sloppy health reporting we see, it’s worth noting that Reuters got the story right on obesity trends through two news cycles.

Two weeks ago, when CDC issued a press release declaring that preschool obesity rates had plunged 43%, most news organizations posted headlines like “Obesity in Young American Children Plummets.” Reuters stood out for actually reading the study and getting the headline right: “Obesity Rates Remain High, but Stable in the U.S.”

Unfortunately, it was the false story of plummeting childhood obesity rates that went viral.

Now this week, Reuters took the next step and dug deeper with obesity experts to publish a full account of the misreporting that occurred with a full perspective on the spurious statistics for children aged 2-5. The headline “A plunge in U.S. preschool obesity? Not so fast, experts say.” Scientists contacted by Reuters explained their skepticism about the hyped claims of a 43% plunge. For example, Lee Kaplan of Harvard said:

You need to have a healthy degree of skepticism about the validity of this finding. The programs that have been implemented, from changing what’s in vending machines to the Let’s Move program, target school-age children more than preschoolers.

So, belatedly, other news outlets fell in line with the more accurate reports from Reuters and milked another news cycle with stories to correct their prior sloppy health reporting.

“Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.” — Mark Twain

Click here to read more from Reuters and here to read more from ConscienHealth.

Correct 1¢ Weight, photograph © the justified sinner / flickr

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