Today’s Logic Fail

Researchers found that kids who have higher BMIs tend to do a little worse on treadmill tests than thinner kids…if they’re from “lower- or middle-income neighborhoods.”   The difference goes away if they’re from the more affluent neighborhoods.

Lead researcher Dr. Tajinder P. Singh, of Children’s Hospital Boston, speculates that

[K]ids from affluent neighborhoods have healthier lifestyles — better diets, more opportunities for exercise — so that even if they are overweight, they may be in good health.

Singh also points out that BMI just measures height and weight, and so it could be the more affluent kids have more muscle mass.  I recall that muscle mass can depend on genetics, but it’s also greatly influenced by exercise.   Ah!

So, logically speaking, does Singh then suggest that perhaps lower- to middle-income children could benefit from more opportunities to exercise?

Singh said they suggest that lower- to middle-income children stand to gain the most from losing excess weight.

Not exercise.

Even though they’re doing treadmill fitness tests, which are … exercise.

Measuring response to … exercise.

A response that improves with … exercise.

Gee.  If  ALL the kids from poorer neighborhoods had averaged lesser cardio fitness, would he have suggested they should move to the better neighborhood?

24 thoughts on “Today’s Logic Fail

  1. They just CANNOT make the connections & come up with the correct conclusions, can they? Of course not. The truth challenges their prejudices & sets the cultural paradigm on its ear, & believing & accepting the truth would put a lot of people out of work, resulting in a loss of many billions of dollars every year. Oh, no, anything that ails ANYONE, including a young child, MUST be related to weight & something which is solved by weight loss.

    And, as someone who has been exercising all my life & who has gone through several long periods of compulsive & intensive exercise, I can assure you that a great deal of muscular strength & performance on physical tests is INDEED genetic. There are plenty of people who don’t work out who have more muscular strength, more athletic fitness, & more lean muscle mass than I EVER had, even when working out for four hours EVERY day for three to four years at a time. Of course, I will concede that my attempts to build strength & tone muscles have always been working against the effects of cerebral palsy, but I have known other, nondisabled people who also found that a lot of exercise did not necessarily gain them the level of fitness, or strength, or muscularity that other people had with much less work. But some moderate exercise almost certainly can have benefits, even if we do not achieve the levels of fitness or the ‘perfect’ bodies which we are led to believe are all-important. Sometimes those with those ‘perfect’ bodies & those who perform so superlatively on stress tests will surprise you by suddenly dropping dead, while those of us who tend more to the contours of a potato & are not so strong can often carry on into our 80’s & 90’s.

    Personally, I just wish that they would leave us ALL, & most especially the children, the hell ALONE. I don’t honestly believe that they can find out anything meaningful from putting children through stress tests anyway & they cause a whole world of problems, emotional & psychological issues, & social adjustment/abuse problems, when they do these things.

    • Patsy,
      This may be off topic, but I’ve been trying to get more muscular and stronger for over then years and I’ve really come to believe that longer workouts and harder work is not always a recipe for success.
      I absolutely believe genetics is a huge factor. I’ve worked out with friends that did the same exercises I did and watched some go from noticeably weaker than me to far stronger in a six month period. I watched others go from somewhat stronger to much stronger too, doing the same work. And it’s likely there are many people out there who are flat out incapable of getting as strong as I am, even though I’m relatively weak for an experienced lifter.
      I am making progress now, and I lift weights about thirty minutes three times per week. Each workout I try to raise the resistance 2.5 pounds, and when I hit the spot where I can’t finish eight or ten repetitions I drop the weight down by a third to a half for the next workout and start working by 2.5 pound increments from there again. That’s all, and it means most of my workouts aren’t that hard – and it’s working. After six years at the same spot, I increased my best shoulder press by 10 pounds.
      I’ve had periods in the past where I worked out to where I couldn’t budge the weight over an hour per day five days a week, and ended a three month time span no stronger than when I started. One of my brothers did the same thing with the same total lack of results. I’ve also done the very short, once or twice weekly workout routines recommended by Mike Mentzer or Fred Hahn with nothing to show for it. And I’ve covered a fair bit of the territory between the two extremes too – though I’ve never matched the fifteen hours per week some really fanatical people dedicate to strength training.
      Please forgive me for being long winded. My point is, I believe it’s possible you or some of the people you know might be able to gain strength. You might be totally limited by genetics, that’s possible. But maybe there is some specific exercise combination that will work for you, and it’s not necessarily spending three hours running yourself into the ground.

      I also agree they should leave the kids alone. I think the best outcome would be if they can get the kids involved in athletic activities that are fun for everyone of all sizes. But even if you find a gym teacher that is nice to obese children (I know a few), getting the other kids to be nice is much harder. Self-conscious kids aren’t going to run around.

      Good luck. I hope this was helpful.
      -Mike

  2. AAAAAAUGH!!!

    You can read the whole thing, you really can, following the logic along and nodding and smiling and saying to yourself “Self, they’re going to do it! They’re going to say that they reccomend that all kids get exercise! Cuz it’s good for them!” AND NOOOOOOO then they stop connecting the dots and SHOVE THE CRAYON UP THEIR NOSE, they’ve missed the point so entirely!

    It’s like everyone’s a pre-programmed robot with only one answer for every problem. What the hell. Seriously. :|

  3. Being licensed in psychology, I used to read a lot of scientific studies like that. I have to say that this one has a FLAWED conclusion because, correlation DOES NOT EQUAL causality. However, the doctor here seems to say that losing weight may cause better performance in exercise. Moreover, there’s a matter of unrelatedness between variables, outcomes, and conclusions. It amazes me how you can conclude on questions you NEVER ASKED from experiments that weren’t aim to measure said variable. (I know what I’m talking about, I made this mistake various times). What is really unacceptable is that this article is now public. ARGHHHHH!

  4. Well, you see, if you say that they need more exercise; then you’re saying that society has to spend a lot of money, while if you say they need to lose weight, it’s all on them–Savings!

    Seriously, to allow the lower SEC kids more exercise you’d have to find, train, and pay enough police to make all neighborhoods safe. At the same time you’d need to create and maintain public playgrounds and swimming pools. That’s a lot of initial investment and ongoing expense, which would pay off enormously in twenty years, a tough sell to politicians.

  5. I know that whenever Baltimore City needs to trim their budget, the first thing they look at is closing pools and rec centers to save money—places where this is the only option for kids to get out and enjoy physical activity and have safer places to congregate.

    Childrens’ activities are low on the priority list for a lot of politicians, yet the government, especially Michelle Obama, can’t stop whining about all the fat kids and how to make them thinner. Perhaps they should focus on finding ways to fund city pools and rec centers, instead of obsessing over how to slim down kids, who are still growing and whose bodies shouldn’t be messed with in the first place.

    • I know that whenever Baltimore City needs to trim their budget, the first thing they look at is closing pools and rec centers to save money—places where this is the only option for kids to get out and enjoy physical activity and have safer places to congregate.

      Great. *headdesk* I mean, yes, if it really is “close the rec center” or “close the hospital”…but, y’know, it probably isn’t.

  6. Why is it that all I can think of is Plan Nine From Outer Space?

    “You with your stupid human brain. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”

    Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me if Ed Wood could logic better than Dr. Singh. It would be hard to miss a point that big staring you in the face, I should think. And yet 98.7% of all people reading that article will think they’ve learned something profound about how poor children should just lose weight because it’s even worse for them than for rich children.

  7. The difference goes away if they’re from the more affluent neighborhoods.

    Yeah, fitness, cardio or otherwise is affected by the stresses, strains and demands of being less well off, financially.

    Kids from affluent neighbourhoods are protected against this……by affluence.

    Sometimes this shit is so easy, that I feel like my mental development is going in reverse.

    Can we all start thinking again sometime soon?!!

  8. Brain! Why U essplode?! Ohhh Stupid Waves hit brain, make smoosh.
    Or maybe there’s an agenda here?

    And people wonder why I dabble so frequently in conspiracy theory where the ‘Obesity EpiPanic’ is concerned. Nothing else makes sense. . . In fact nothing ABOUT it makes sense. Yah know what? Lets just forget about this whole ‘sense’ thing. Nobodies seems to be using it anyway.

  9. Even if they drew the correct conclusion from this study and realized that physical activity is the key, not weight… it still would not matter I don’t think.

    Because physical activity does not count for most anti-obesity type people (the ones who believe obesity is a moral failing basically, and it’s as simple as diet and exercise), only “exercise”… which isn’t the same thing in their world view.

    Just giving kids (or adults) places to be active won’t help until we can get society at large to admit that exercise gotten while having fun actually is still exercise. Even if you don’t lose weight.

    Probably not explaining my thought well.

      • Which, in reality land, it does… the only place dancing* doesn’t count as exercise is in the minds of people who assume that if you’re having fun it’s not exercise, and it’s not exercise if you’re having fun!

        * assuming of course that by dancing you mean something other than the kind of slow dance most often seen in high school gymnasiums… standing in one spot swaying back and forth while trying to cop a feel without being spotted by a teacher!

        I think the thing that drives me absolutely nuts about the “it’s just thirty minutes a couple times a week!!!” types is that they appear to assume that one has an infinite supply of minutes – because no matter how many minutes how many times a week you exercise, if you don’t lose (or actually gain) weight, the answer is that of course they meant 30 minutes MORE than you were doing before!

  10. Haven’t read the comments, agree on the disconnect in the article. I recall reading elsewhere that kids in poorer neighborhoods tend to have fewer opportunities for outdoor play. Which also means that there are more overweight kids in the lower income brackets as well (less exercise, and less access to healthy food…) So it’s a real dilemna. (One of the reasons I really think schools should ditch teh pizza, etc., in their lunchrooms and try to do something that would actually be good for the kids…

  11. Maybe giving kids from poorer neighbourhoods safer places to play, supporting their families in employment, education and health care, and generally just not creating a stigma around low income groups might be the better way than just stating “You poor fat kids need to exercise.”

    GAH!

  12. Amazingly enough, kids who aren’t protected from gang violence/drive-by shootings/unsafe driving don’t play outdoors as much as kids whose suburban playgrounds and back yards are protected. OH MY GOD HOW CAN THIS EVEN BE OBVIOUSLY THE ANSWER IS TO MAKE THE POOR KIDS DIET!

  13. Wonderful, as always. Your blog is always well-written, well-researched and fun.

    And hey! Skinny kids get bullied too: trust me, I was there. I think that bullies target kids with low self-esteem, and unfortunately a lot of fat kids fall into that category. That being said, so do a lot of thin kids.

    Everybody is (potentially) somebody’s whipping boy? Maybe.

  14. Pingback: Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Today’s Logic Fail

  15. Pingback: May in at Living ~400lbs « Living ~400lbs

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