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Children should gain weight to prevent head and face injuries!

Posted by on May 4, 2010 in Blog Posts |

I’m trying an experiment… This post didn’t get much feedback so I am reposting with an attention-getting title. Sorry for those of you who already read this. Another post coming soon…

I recently picked up a medical journal. (April 2010, Journal of Pediatrics) Found this article:
Injury Patterns in Obese Versus Nonobese Children Presenting to a Pediatric Emergency Department.
Results section:
“Overall, obese and non-obese children had the same percentage of upper extremity injuries. However obese children were significantly more likely to have lower extremity injuries compared with upper extremity injuries than were non-obese children. In addition, obese children had significantly fewer head and face injuries than nonobese children.
Conclusion:
“Obese children are significantly more likely to sustain lower extremity injuries than upper extremity injuries and less likely to sustain head and face injuries than nonobese children. Strategies for preventing lower extremity injuries among obese youth should be sought.”

Read those two paragraphs again. When you hear about weight bias this is one example.

Here is the lay-media reporting on this article:
“Obese Kids Suffer More Leg, Foot, Ankle Injuries: Study “ on Medicinenet.com
same headline on the NIH’s website (National Instituet of Health) called Medline plus “Trusted Health Information for You.” Babycanter.com reports “Obese kids suffer more leg, foot injuries, study shows” same for health.msn.com… Of the dozen or so articles on my quick search, two did mentioned the finding that obese children suffer from less head and face injuries…

Where to begin?
First off, the researchers themselves come to a biased and incomplete conclusion. I wonder, as head injuries are generally more severe than lower extremity injuries, were there also more deaths or permanent morbidity in the nonobese group? Then of course the lay media, without serious science journalists usually just picks up a press release without bothering to even read the actual study or even the synopsis and it gets picked up on hundreds of websites where the average reader gets one more dose of weight-based hysteria.

Imagine these headlines in an alternate universe– based on the same study results…
Nonobese children more likely to suffer serious head and face injuries!
Obesity in childhood protective of serious head and face injuries!
Children should gain weight to prevent head and face injuries!
Get a helmet for your child? Gaining weight might keep them safer!
Why your skinny child may be more at risk of dying-story at 11!
Just wanted to show one small example of how the data can be interpreted, picked up and reported by lay media. Why does the conclusion not also say, “Strategies for preventing head and face injuries in the nonobese population should be sought…” My guess is that childhood obesity is a hot topic right now. Lots of attention, lots of press, and maybe lots more funding for studies that focus on this issue…
What do you think? Does this make sense? Does it surprise, annoy you?
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