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Much ado about fat science

10 months 2 days 3 hours ago |2882 Views | | | Email | Print

John DiTraglia MD


Contributing Columnist


The September issue of Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, has an editorial about the “fat letters” (1), the controversial policy that many states, like Massachusetts and Ohio, have instituted of measuring the BMI of children in school and then reporting that to parents.


September’s issue of Pediatrics also has another study about how drinking sugar sweetened beverages is associated with the being or getting fat by small children, that is used to make strong recommendations on the basis of dubious data. (2) Then there is a commentary about that. (3) But more interesting than that silly stuff is an article that examins the top 100 most cited articles in the pediatric scientific literature since 1945. (4) Of those, 17 were about obesity and another six were height and weight compendiums of British or American children that might be used to talk about obesity.


That’s more than any other specific subject category. Not all of those reports are very compelling - for example the one titled “Evidence based physical activity for school-aged youth” (Strong WB, et al. Journal of Pediatrics 2005;146:732-37.) But this amount of citation reflects the volume of noise that is being generated about fat science in the pediatric literature. It’s not just me.


1. Flaherty MR. “Fat letters” in public schools: public health versus pride. Pediatrics 2013; 132:403-5.


2. DeBoer et al. Sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain in 2- to 5-year-old children. Pediatrics 2013; 132:413-20.


3. Patel A I Ritchie L. Striving for meaningful policies to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage intake among young children. Pediatrics 2013; 132:566-8.


4. Quinn Nu, Hensly O, McDowell DT. A historical perspective of pediatric publications: a bibliometric analysis Pediatrics 2013; 132:406-12.

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