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Canberra Writers Festival
23-26 Aug 2018

Parents fibbing to health surveys?

By johnboy 11 November 2013 62

donut

The Health Directorate has unveiled “Health status of children in the Australian Capital Territory Results from the 2007–10 ACT General Health Survey”.

Perusing the summary I was astonished to learn that 97% of houses are smoke free!

But then I came to the number that 49% of children do not eat fried potato products once a week!

Followed by a similar number who consume no sugary drinks at all!

So dear readers I ask you, do you think those responding were telling stories?

Or are the parents of the ACT really so virtuous?

[Photo by tommy.chheng CC BY 2.0]

What’s Your opinion?


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Parents fibbing to health surveys?
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breda 12:33 pm 15 Nov 13

You clearly haven’t read the paper I cited. These people, instead of going along blindly with the methodology of previous CDC researchers, as generations before had, actually sat down and analysed the results against real world data – something that no-one had ever bothered to do before.

That in 40 years, no-one ever bothered to do that before speaks volumes about the gullibility, and the lack of rigour and intellectual curiosity of the thousands of CDC researchers over decades who compiled it and told the government that this was the received truth.

They also checked the statistical methodology, and found it to be lacking in rigour. Once again, it seems that everyone just assumed that it must be OK.

The people who did this work carried out the fundamental tasks that any decent researcher in what is well known to be a difficult field should do. That makes them atypical, it seems, which is my point.

beejay76 7:45 am 15 Nov 13

breda said :

Here is a recent paper which highlights systematic under-reporting of calorie intake by participants in US government nutrition surveys:

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0076632

What’s worse, the dopey researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believed them for over 40 years, producing junk science accordingly.

Researchers are very gullible, and their lack of real-world experience results in a lot of nonsense being published, and worse still, used as a basis for public policy.

There are so many things wrong with your statement, but here are the big ones. Firstly, you’ve just cited an article from actual researchers that you claim are so shit. Or do you claim that the researchers who produced that article are somehow different because their piece reinforces your worldview?

Second, science is about updating your ideas in line with the evidence. That’s what they’ve done. They’ve investigated their own methods to try an expose the flaws. That’s how evidence works. It’s not perfect, but over time we chip away and discover the workings of the world.

Lastly, and most critically, you’ve just made the most ridiculous generalisation that researchers are gullible and lack real-world experience. This is evidence of a completely unscientific mind, as you are clearly not forming your hypothesis from any evidence, but from prejudice. This, more than the others, renders your other critiques of science void.

Masquara 10:22 pm 14 Nov 13

Just how likely, I wonder, is it that close to 100 per cent of Riotact parents don’t feed their children chips, and don’t give them soft drink at all, or very rarely. I reckon it’s likely there have been more porkies told on this thread than in the survey.

breda 1:24 pm 14 Nov 13

Here is a recent paper which highlights systematic under-reporting of calorie intake by participants in US government nutrition surveys:

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0076632

What’s worse, the dopey researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believed them for over 40 years, producing junk science accordingly.

Researchers are very gullible, and their lack of real-world experience results in a lot of nonsense being published, and worse still, used as a basis for public policy.

Watson 10:29 am 14 Nov 13

Watson said :

MWF said :

Back to the fat kids, most people I know with weight problems have food issues. I remember my horror at watching my obese ex-brother and sister in law going red in the face with anger and threatening their 6 year old to: “Clean your plate and eat all those vegetables or you can’t leave the table.”

Meanwhile, my little Tarquin, pushed some stuff around, ate a little bit or everything asked to leave the table and I said yes, of course.

Guess which kid is the fat kid now?

This.

I have never forced or bribed my child into emptying her plate and it genuinely shocks me to realise that so many parents still do this when we hear so much about the obesity crisis. Isn’t the key to having a healthy attitude to food that you learn to recognise when you’re full and stop eating? It’s such a very basic mechanism that I trusted my child to do this for herself from the moment she started eating solids.

I heard something on 666 the other day about some research that indicated that lots of obese people had damage to the nerves that give the brain the signal that they’re full when eating.

My mistake for not reading the full blurb first. The nerve desensitisation is not caused by overeating but by the fat content in one’s diet. http://theconversation.com/obesity-dampens-the-brain-signal-that-makes-us-feel-full-18244

switch 10:28 am 14 Nov 13

Watson said :

I have never forced or bribed my child into emptying her plate and it genuinely shocks me to realise that so many parents still do this when we hear so much about the obesity crisis.

Perhaps, but then they turn into teenagers who fill their plates with nice things (that I also like to eat), disappear to their rooms “because they have to study” and then you find all that nice stuff mouldering away because they forgot/couldn’t bothered to eat it (and left the mess for you to clean up).

And only taking what they can eat never occurs to them. Teaching them some self-discipline at an early age does help.

Watson 10:00 am 14 Nov 13

MWF said :

Back to the fat kids, most people I know with weight problems have food issues. I remember my horror at watching my obese ex-brother and sister in law going red in the face with anger and threatening their 6 year old to: “Clean your plate and eat all those vegetables or you can’t leave the table.”

Meanwhile, my little Tarquin, pushed some stuff around, ate a little bit or everything asked to leave the table and I said yes, of course.

Guess which kid is the fat kid now?

This.

I have never forced or bribed my child into emptying her plate and it genuinely shocks me to realise that so many parents still do this when we hear so much about the obesity crisis. Isn’t the key to having a healthy attitude to food that you learn to recognise when you’re full and stop eating? It’s such a very basic mechanism that I trusted my child to do this for herself from the moment she started eating solids.

I heard something on 666 the other day about some research that indicated that lots of obese people had damage to the nerves that give the brain the signal that they’re full when eating.

IrishPete 8:41 am 14 Nov 13

breda said :

IP, it’s pretty clear that my considered response to your question was a waste of time. You are not really interested in learning or discussing anything, you just want to score points.

From now on, I will treat your “questions” as purely rhetorical devices.

words fail me to respond to this…

IP

MWF 11:13 pm 13 Nov 13

astrojax said :

both eat healthily (oldest one’s favourite fruit is tomato, though apples compete) and he’ll generally go the fruit platter at parties before the sweets. any juice is well watered down, and anyway infrequent. and this seems pretty usuall for his cohort, from my experience.

but i’m not expecting this to continue into his teens… will do my best, of course, but peer pressure will no doubt play a role.

Maybe you’ll get lucky. In my experience with my teens peer pressure is a non issue both with food, and otherwise. Teenage years are not always a terror ride. The only correlation I can see is that my kids have had the same (small, but growing) group of friends since day-care days. These kids are genuinely good kids growing into good adults. Oh and btw, they all go to public school (in a non inner suburb) and always have.

Back to the fat kids, most people I know with weight problems have food issues. I remember my horror at watching my obese ex-brother and sister in law going red in the face with anger and threatening their 6 year old to: “Clean your plate and eat all those vegetables or you can’t leave the table.”

Meanwhile, my little Tarquin, pushed some stuff around, ate a little bit or everything asked to leave the table and I said yes, of course.

Guess which kid is the fat kid now?

MWF 10:47 pm 13 Nov 13

dtc said :

Huh, yes. Inner North…guess my elitism was showing. And I freely confess to having an underlying bias based on no facts that the further away from the inner suburbs you get the worse children are fed.

Yes, yes it is and it’s not an attractive look.

I choose to live quite a good distance away from the inner suburbs and I can assure you that my little Tarquin and Beatrice are just as healthy and probably more intelligent, well read and accomplished than your coddled cherubs.

You really need to get out and about more.

breda 7:47 pm 13 Nov 13

IP, it’s pretty clear that my considered response to your question was a waste of time. You are not really interested in learning or discussing anything, you just want to score points.

From now on, I will treat your “questions” as purely rhetorical devices.

IrishPete 7:10 pm 13 Nov 13

maxblues said :

IrishPete said :

breda said :

Self reporting = junk science.

how else would you research this, or would you just not bother?

IP

Sodium pentathol and water-boarding?

yep, good idea. Might require Rendition to places where it is legal.

IP

gazket 5:37 pm 13 Nov 13

maybe they are so the Labor party doesn’t start legislating what family meals we can eat.

maxblues 4:36 pm 13 Nov 13

IrishPete said :

breda said :

Self reporting = junk science.

how else would you research this, or would you just not bother?

IP

Sodium pentathol and water-boarding?

breda 3:24 pm 13 Nov 13

how else would you research this, or would you just not bother?

IP
————————————-
Good question.

In fact, researching what people actually do in their private lives is very difficult, because as I said, self-reporting is rubbish. Ask any GP.

If you want to find out what people eat, for example, you might record all the food that they buy at the supermarket for a start. But, short of asking them to keep a food diary, that gives you no information about who eats what, or what they buy elsewhere. And food diaries, while better than phone surveys, are essentially self-reporting. People lie because they know what the expected “correct” answer is, just as they lie to their GP about how much they smoke or drink or take illegal drugs.

Another method is to look at the supply side – such as analysing the demographics and frequency of customers at fast food outlets or purveyors of soft drinks, cakes and sweets. It’s expensive, and there are privacy issues, but it can be done in a limited way.

There are macro approaches to the supply issue too – such as compiling statistics on overall sales trends across a population.

But the bottom line is – it is fiendishly difficult to get good data on people’s personal habits when there is any kind of moral or political agenda involved. Lots of people are happy to be quite honest about the brand of soap powder they use, and this kind of market research is pretty straightforward. As soon as a topic comes loaded with judgements, the compilation of good data is highly problematic.

Which is why this survey is junk science. It not only is loaded with value judgements, it relies on self reporting which cannot be verified.

Watson 3:08 pm 13 Nov 13

PS: I used to live in the Inner North. Now I live on the very Northern edge of town.

Watson 3:03 pm 13 Nov 13

dtc said :

astrojax said :

Pitchka said :

dtc said :

My kids live in a smoke free house, do not eat chips (cooked or dried) once a week and dont drink any softdrinks or cordial. Very few of their friends regularly drink softdrinks or eat chips and I dont know any smokers with kids

But the kids are in primary school and under my control, more or less. I’m sure high school is different.

Are you posting form Nth Korea or China?

north canberra prob’ly .

Huh, yes. Inner North…guess my elitism was showing. And I freely confess to having an underlying bias based on no facts that the further away from the inner suburbs you get the worse children are fed. Certainly there are less than a handful of ‘overweight’ kids at my inner North primary school. But the hours spent talking about Minecraft suggests that electronic devices are well used.

I wonder if that is the same school that tells parent to keep their kids home with the slightest sniffle because they have children with “compromised immune systems”.

Not eating crap food ever doesn’t automatically mean your kids are healthier (nor superior, might I add). I reckon stressing too much about one’s diet will raise the risk of stroke or heart disease. Though the obsession with longevity these days puzzles me too…

I rarely meet fat kids in Canberra full stop. Perhaps because I don’t go to places where they like to forage, I admit.

DrKoresh 2:41 pm 13 Nov 13

BimboGeek said :

maxblues said :

Whilst TV surfing the other night, I caught a few seconds of an unidentified program which featured a ‘healthy’ donut. Just put avocado on the donut to produce an avocadonut.

Because if there’s one thing a doughnut needs, it’s more oil!!!

Just sounds like the waste of a perfectly avo to me.

maxblues 2:06 pm 13 Nov 13

Woolworths promotional vehicle Recipe To Riches has been won by chocolate-coated-popcorn! I believe the completion was decided by sales, so someone must be eating this crap.

IrishPete 1:30 pm 13 Nov 13

wildturkeycanoe said :

What parent who smokes in their own house who raises children, feeds them junk food regularly and doesn’t tell them “No” when asked for a drink of Coca-cola would bother to participate in a survey about kid’s health? Stats are biased, as the bogans haven’t been included in the sampling.

It was a random sample. Unless bogans don’t have home phones, or refused to take part, they were included.

IP

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