The Herald receives numerous emails with story pitches from all over the country. Mostly we ignore them, but there was one a while back from a website that claimed to have conducted a two-year study on obesity and weight-loss in Lake County.

The information provided said that “the study identifies rates and trends in BMI (body mass index), activity level and preferred diet programs (Keto, Atkins, etc) over time and shows how these correlate to gender, age and even specific neighborhoods in Lake County.” Comparison data were also promised.

So we asked for the information and also asked whether the study worked with any agencies in Lake County, and if so, which ones. It turns out that data were gathered from visitors to the company’s website. Individuals fill out a form with qualification questions tied to their zip codes (gender, zipcode, age, height, weight, exercise levels, etc). The company running the site said it has information for over 1,000 counties with hundreds of submissions from customers in each zip code.

Once we got the initial information, we learned the study determined that in Lake County, men average a BMI or body mass index of 0.0, and women come in at a BMI of 25.8. The typical weight of men is 0 pounds with women weighing 160 pounds.

We didn’t have to juggle many numbers to determine that no men submitted any data for the study, hence the BMI of zero.

The study concluded that the average person in Lake County needs to lose 23 pounds. That is 54 percent lower than the state average of 50 pounds and 61 percent lower than the national average of 59 pounds.

Because we didn’t know how many women submitted information, we asked how many Lake County people participated in the study.

This information, we surmise, just applies to women here since we’ve already eliminated the men.

In any case, we couldn’t get that information. It seems the only person able to access this information is the company CTO who just happens to be out of town this month. We hope he makes it safely back to work or all this carefully gathered information will likely be lost forever.

The individual with whom we were corresponding also said, “I wouldn’t want to give you an estimate either since I would not like to lie to you on the actuals, but we normally have a range of 100-300 participants, depending on the county and how large it is.”

Not helpful.

We responded that we look forward to receiving the requested information when the CTO returns to town. We shall see.

But as it stands, we have some obvious concerns about this research as it pertains to Lake County.

Speaking of research, the pitch for the article on the study also included this statement: “Because of your great reputation (I did my research), I’d like to offer you first refusal for this article before contacting other publications.”

If, indeed, we do have a great reputation, it’s based on the fact that we don’t take things at face value and try to do a little fact-checking before we leap.

Marcia Martinek

Herald Editor

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