Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Policy Point Wednesday - Corollary: How Food Corporations Spin Statistics

You may remember my post a few weeks ago on Birds Eye Food's study on eating behaviors in the UK.  In it, I mentioned that I had found the study while in search of a specific statistic (1 in 4 children in the UK regularly eat their evening meal in their bedroom) ...but that the statistic wasn't included in the only study linked on Birds Eye's UK website.

So, like any good blogger, I followed up.  I sent an email to the Daily Mail, the newspaper which had been my initial source for the statistic...and got nothing.  So, I emailed Birds Eye foods - surprisingly, their corporate office responded almost immediately, and they sent me the executive summary via snail mail!  Using information from Time trends in adolescent well-being: Update 2009 and studies commissioned by Birds Eye through Lightspeed research, this more recent summary (September 2010) highlights the discrepancies the information I had posted previously.

According to this summary, only 2 in 10 (or 21%) of families in the UK eat together every night (If you recall, my earlier post noted that "80% of parents say their children eat their evening meals with at least one of their parents...but the table notes that only 19% of respondents say their children eat with Mom, Dad and their siblings - as a family." )  Also, it states that 78% of children eat their meals in front of a TV, as opposed to the earlier study implying that only 36% eat in front of the TV.  As the study was offered to me with no admonition to keep it private, I have posted it as an image file here.

What interests me most, beyond the horrifying eating habits revealed in these studies, is that the first study is proudly displayed on the Birds Eye UK website...but I was unable to find the information from the press release they mailed to me anywhere on the internet, including the 100% Challenge, which is referenced by the second study.  It is fascinating to see statistics and PR in a head-on collision.

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