Editor’s note: This blog is written by Richard Anderson, Business Program Chair, Minnesota School of Business – Shakopee.
News Flash – “Adolescents in states with strict laws regulating the sale of snacks and sugary drinks in public schools gained less weight over a three-year period than those living in states with no such laws, a new study has found . . .”. So says a study published Monday in Pediatrics. Maybe Bloomberg is on to something banning sales of 64 ounce drinks! I am glad to hear this! I am going to sue my high school for my current obesity (I’ll come back to this in a moment) since they ingrained my eating habit of competitive foods during my informative years. That is why I have a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 87.3 today!!! Thank heavens someone out there is paying attention to what our schools are doing to our young’uns.
What a crock of junk (I cleaned that up for all of the minors reading this blog)!!!! We teach in economics the “fallacy of composition” (what is true for a part must therefore be true for all) is used over and over again to justify terrible economic policies. It is also used to push individual agendas from all sciences including the medical world. So, how did this supposed scientific study accomplish this conclusion? One that certainly will cause every politician to put forth laws banning “competitive foods” in our schools. By the way, “competitive foods” is defined as any food offered in school that does not comply to the government’s definition of healthy. Anybody remember the 9 year old who brought a lunch from home that contained a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, apple juice and potato chips. It was confiscated, and she was forced to eat an approved lunch provided by the school. It must have been the processed cheese, white bread (not whole wheat), and potato chips. OMG, how could a mother send her child to school with potato chips? Maybe the mother should be arrested for child endangerment or even attempted murder.
So what’s wrong with the study you might ask? I’ll just pick three items which is typical of these types of studies:
- It compared weight gain of 6400 children across 40 states and correlated the weight changes to states and their competitive food laws. You know, if the sun shines in Minnesota and Florida, then Minnesota must be Florida – huh!!! They made no attempt to comply with the first basic requirement of any scientific study – one we teach all the time. Isolate the variable you want to test to ensure it is the only variable going on. They didn’t bother to look at home life, school activities, amount eaten of competitive foods, school lunch menus for these students, and on and on and on.
- They discovered that the children in tough law states ate a total of 130 calories a month less. Now I’m no brain surgeon, but I do know it takes 3400 calories to gain or lose a pound. So using my incredible math skills (remember I am a genius) that amounts to 1560 calories a year difference (I cheated and used my financial calculator) or .45 pounds difference a year. You have got to be kidding me. The New York Times ran a lead story for .45 pounds a year. Sorry folks, I can sweat more than .45 pounds walking to class.
- Finally, they used the BMI calculation and found a .007 change in BMI. Apart from the BMI being the most disgraced method to determine obesity, .007 doesn’t even change a BMI category. Let me digress for a moment. My BMI isn’t really 87.3. However, according to the BMI, I should weigh 144 pounds. The last time I weighed 144 pounds was a senior in High School. I also had hair! I was so skinny I had a 26 inch waist. My head wouldn’t even fit into those pants today. Ahh, those were the days; my prom date weighed more than me. Enough nostalgia! This change, even if you believe in the BMI, is scientifically insignificant and well within the range of variability.
So why even publish such a study? You got it . . . push an agenda. Students, this is why we spend so much time teaching critical thinking skills. You can look at this study and disregard it because you know better. You will not be fooled by these agenda driven studies.
By the way, I just completed a survey of 100 students who over-whelmingly like breathing. I like breathing, so my conclusion is students must like me a lot. I smell a raise coming my way!!!!!!!