I share with our Journal readers the Top 10 academic studies of 2016 that made me laugh (and cringe). These are scientific studies or reports published in professional pediatric journals claiming to advance the field of pediatric medicine. Keep in mind, someone paid for these studies.
- Bigger baby bottles linked to weight gain.
Yep. This study proves that if a parent feeds a child more, that child will gain more weight. Lead researcher Karen Bonuck further wows us by revealing “parents who purchase larger bottles may be doing so out of a desire to express nurturance through feeding.” I assume this is opposed to those parents who desire to express nurturance through osmosis or voodoo?
- Talking on cellphone impedes kids’ and adults’ ability to cross street.
What a surprise, right? It turns out that the most at-risk children in this study were the 7- to 8-year-old age group, raising the questions: Why does a 7- or 8-year-old need a cellphone, and why are they crossing the street talking on it? Parents probably have bigger concerns if this study is actually relevant.
- 8. Higher screen time may take away from homework time.
Duh. More time in front of a screen equals less time for doing homework. It’s really just simple inverse physics — something my 5-year-old grasps (although, when it comes to budgeting, not my 30-something-year-old wife). There’s nothing deeper in this highbrow study. Thank you, Brown University.
- Teenage brains go through a myriad of changes.
You don’t say. In case anyone thinks that a teenager acting unpredictable and volatile during puberty isn’t somehow related to brain changes, the University of Cambridge has clarified. Lead researcher Dr. Kristie Whitaker further explains, “This is a powerful and important stage that you have to go through to be the best and the most capable adult that you can be.” Instead of, I guess, not going through puberty — which only Peter Pan has accomplished.
- Preference for eating sweets may increase weight gain risk in young children.
Here’s my favorite part: The experiment included offering children a plate with “two Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies, two Oreos, five frosted Keebler animal cookies, two rainbow candy blast Chips Ahoy cookies, two Keebler fudge stripe chocolate-coated cookies, 10 Pringles potato chips and 10 Frito-Lay Cheetos cheese puffs.” The kids that ate more of the sugar and saturated fat platter gained more weight. Mind. Blown.
- Is your kid’s backpack too heavy?
Dr. Preeti Parikh with the American Academy of Pediatrics reports, “Backpacks that are too heavy or worn incorrectly can contribute to back pain and muscle sprains and can affect posture.” This wasn’t addressed in the report, but I’ll extrapolate and hypothesize that putting too much strain on muscles can negatively affect them. Maybe I should officially research this to get my name on a paper.
- Surge in trampoline park usage is tied to increased ER visits.
Imagine that. Unbridled kids jumping 10 feet in the air and bouncing off of objects and each other leads to more injuries than studying geometry in the public library. Baffling.
- Research links e-cigarette usage to increased nicotine use among youths.
Twenty years of data by Dr. Jessica L. Barrington-Trimis from the University of Southern California showed that using an addictive substance (nicotine) leads to an increased use of that addictive substance (nicotine), thus solidifying the basic tenets of addiction.
- Political affiliation may affect adolescent vaccine acceptance.
Senior author Linda M. Niccolai from the Yale School of Public Health states, “These associations are important because they demonstrate that there are broader forces associated with political affiliation that may influence acceptance of immunizations for adolescent children.” I’ve read her quote 10 times and still have no idea what she’s talking about. But I know this: Regardless of whether you voted for Trump or Clinton (or “other”), think vaccines save lives or cause autism, this study is ridiculous. It seems that they took two inflammatory, nonrelated topics and drew some absurd, pointless association in hopes of getting attention. This study leaves me “in shock” and “distraught.” Can I skip the rest of the week of work to process this?
- Teen substance abuse tied to lower academic performance.
In this five-year study, the RAND Corporation proved that if a teenager is stoned all the time, he won’t do well in school. This information was deemed important until the authors realized their target audience was too high to care.
Feel free to email me with complaints regarding my ridicule — or requests for citations on all these remarkable studies.
Dr. Joe Maurer is a pediatrician with The Children’s Clinic, part of the GHS Children’s Hospital. He and his wife, Kristen, are blessed with three rowdy kids. Reach him at [email protected]