Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Medical Research

Okay, I've made fun of medical research studies here and there for bizarre, useless, redundant findings, and redundant findings.

But a study published yesterday in the respected journal Pediatrics has stunned even me.

This study found that (shocker!) overweight kids are ALMOST TWICE AS LIKELY to get teased/bullied than kids who are of average weight.

Really. They did a study to find this out.

I'm sure someone out there is going to claim I'm supporting bullying. Or making fun of the overweight. But my ONLY point here is this: does this conclusion actually surprise anyone? Was this research necessary?

Disclaimer: I was NOT a bully. I was the bully-ee. So don't look at me as someone defending the playground thug. I hated them.

These researchers, using somebody's money, actually studied 821 kids in 3 elementary school grades in multiple schools across the U.S. It didn't say how long this groundbreaking research took. I can only assume that we've now learned everything there is to possibly learn in pediatrics, and so research is expanding into this sort of stuff.

Let's face it. ANYONE who grew up in the American school system (and likely any school system on Earth, after all, Augustus Gloop was German), could have told them this. Any KID in school today could have told them this. Any PERSON who watches a playground for 10 minutes could have told them this (although more likely would be arrested for being a stranger watching a playground and taking notes).

But, to prove my hypotheses, I did my own research, using 3 renowned scientists:

Marie Grumpy is known for her veterinary research in improving the eyesight of dogs.

Craig Grumpy is known for techniques to convert pharmaceutical models into aquatic habitats.

Frank Grumpy, at an early age, did research into how many cardboard boxes full of adhesive band-aids can be flushed down a toilet at once (his submission to American Plunger Journal was rejected because he didn't know the alphabet at the time).

So I showed each subject 2 pictures, which I found on Google images. One showed a thin kid, and the other a not-so-thin kid. Each of my 3 associates was asked which kid Jake Rottweiler (their school bully) was more likely to pick on.

All 3, in separate questioning, and with no access to their colleagues' answers, picked the not-so-thin kid.

My project took all of 15 minutes, and cost me a $3.49 half-gallon of Cookie-Dough-Explosion ice cream (to pay my research subjects for their time).

Take that, Pediatric journal writers.


Celeste said...

They always talk about how the fat kids get bullied for their weight. They never, ever study why the skinny kids do it to the fat kids. There seems to a be a presumption that the skinny kids' behavior is accepted.

The Mother said...

I saw that study. I considered blogging on it in my "Uh, DUH!" series, but this one was better:


(Parents are sure every other teen is sexually active, but not their own.)

Dissection coming next Monday to a blog near you.

Anonymous said...

Um...that was hysterical. It left only one question from me, a social worker. Isn't that more of a sociology/ psychology/ social work study?

Just saying.


Captain Foulenough said...

I really wish this was a site with popularity upvoting, so I could upvote you for "...redundant findings, and redundant findings."

(But since it's your own blog, that would be fucking retarded. Just like the study cited here).

CrownedwithVictory said...

I really like how you paid them with a high calorie, fattening snack. :D

Cthulhu Sashimi said...

Of course, what the researchers neglected to mention is that they themselves were the ones doing the bullying.

Anonymous said...

I read an article about this.


At first I had the same reaction.

But *I* thought they did kind of have one good point...

""One of the reasons we started this study is that obesity is so much more common today. Now that about half of kids are overweight or obese, it doesn't make you such an outlier anymore, so we thought maybe kids wouldn't be bullied for being overweight anymore," said study author Dr. Julie Lumeng, an assistant research scientist at the Center for Human Growth and Development at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She added that the researchers also hoped they might be able to find some protective factors against being bullied, such as doing well in school.

"What we found, much to our dismay, was that nothing seemed to matter. If you were obese, you were more likely to be bullied, no matter what," she said."

And I kind of agreed. Most of the kids I see today are overweight. You'd think it'd be less of an issue, even slightly.

I'm just saying.

Lipstick said...

My goodness. I wonder who paid for that non-sense...er, valuable contribution to science.

Katie Axelson said...

Then apparently my school was messed up... I was the bullied thin kid.
<>< Katie

Hal Doll said...

Listen grumps, tenure is a-callin and you better publish something or be fired. Either that, or you need something to write your dissertation on. You don't know what the consequences may be for the authors that they published this study, many of which may benefit society. For example, maybe someone got a PhD and will use said PhD for non-research purposes, but ones which require research experience. Wouldn't be the first time. The NSF is who you should be yelling at for funding it.

Albinoblackbear said...

An ethics committee would have never approved the food bribing of subjects.

And considering the research shouldn't the food bribe have been carrot sticks and soda water??


Anonymous said...

melissa- turf wars over meaningless research? careers are at stake. let the games begin.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember any follow up on converting that model into the aquatic habitat mentioned in this post...

Grumpy, M.D. said...

Anon @ 3:09 - it was destroyed during the conversion attempt.

Reported here:


OMDG said...

You methods raise a really interesting point. That is, why is it when doing pediatric research don't the adults EVER ask the kids what THEY think. There are all these childhood obesity researchers who sit around all day scratching their heads about why do children eat junk food? I seriously want to shake them and say, "BECAUSE IT TASTES GOOD, IDIOTS. AND THEY'RE HUNGRY."

Some things just boggle the mind.

Livvy said...

They should follow up with some other much-needed studies:

Do children with horrible disfigurements get bullied? Even if they're really cool people?

Do children really prefer chocolate and candy to broccoli and brussel sprouts?

Matt said...

This reminds me of a small group session we had this year when the topic was access to care among the homeless. There was a JAMA article we had to read, and in it they found that the homeless believe they have less access and more utilization of emergency room services, etc. No shit! And this article was published in 2005. I've begun to notice a lot of articles in JAMA are like this--pointless. Maybe I should cancel my JAMA sub. and get NEJM instead.

Gloria P said...

The next issue will report on a study to decide whether diet or lack of exercise is responsible for the overweight kids.

Jeff Kaufman said...

From the study: The investigators also examined the possibility that being bullied predicted later weight gain, possibly because being bullied created stress that resulted in behaviors such as comfort food consumption.

However, they found no association between being bullied in third grade and an increase in BMI z-score during the subsequent two years (β = 0.050, 95% CI −0.049 to 0.149, P=0.32).

That's at least interesting.

Sigmoid Freud said...

Albinoblackbear stole my thought of trying to get your study past an IRB. I know my hospital wouldn't approve paying the subjects with such hazardous food. And I too fit into the category of thin bullied kid, but that was only freshman year of high school by some seniors.

FrauTech said...

Your post and these comments are more interesting than the study in that several people mention that they were bullied, but not that they bullied anyone. I wonder if you did a study, how many people would actually admit to having been a bully in their childhood? I'm guessing it'd be a very underreported demographic. I'm betting many people who said "I was never the bully, but I was bullied" only remember times in which they were bullied, but have completely forgotten when they were rude or ganged up on some outside student, effectively forgetting that they too were bullied. Or perhaps serial bulliers just have a rosy image of their youth and just don't see it as bullying. I'm not saying anyone HERE is lying of course...

Joe said...

Now if the study had shown that the kids were previously thin but were being bullied for other reasons and engaged in comfort eating resulting in epidemic childhood obesity, that causation would make for a study worth reading.

I'm rotating through child psych now, can you tell?

Aura said...

Yes, but if a scientist says it then it MUST be true!

Now all they have to do is put it on TV and I'll believe it twice as much.

Anonymous said...

My guess is most bullies aren't reading medical blogs, being thugs and drug seekers (at least, that's what our old school bullies are up to).

And Matt with the JAMA subscription - you better not being paying for JAMA - blech. It follows me wherever I go and I haven't paid for it ever, and I am not an AMA member. I can't get rid of it. NEJM rocks.

RSDS said...

I was the scrawny kid, that was always a bullied outcast. My parents arranged for a "chubby" kid to be my bodyguard, for awhile.

At recess nobody would invite me into their games, so I was forced to become a loner. Now, as a middle-aged adult, I am told that I have Avoidant Personality Disorder. I am still an outsider, still afraid of being picked on.

In my elementary school, the girl who had braces on her legs and used crutches, because she had, had Polio was very popular.


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