Spreadsheet error forces loss of Appetite paper on obesity and parenting styles
The journal Appetite has retracted a recent paper that purported to show that children whose parents kept a tight fist on the grub were less likely to become obese than those whose parents were more laissez-faire with the feed bag.
The article, “Relation of parenting styles, feeding styles and feeding practices to child overweight and obesity. Direct and moderated effects,” appeared last year. The senior author was Laura Hubbs-Tait, of Oklahoma State University.
According to the abstract:
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the direct and interacting relations of parenting styles, feeding styles, and feeding practices to child overweight and obesity. Participants were 144 mothers and children under 6 years of age. Mothers completed questionnaires about parenting and feeding styles and feeding practices. Researchers weighed and measured mothers and children or obtained measurements from a recent health report. Feeding practices were not directly related to child weight status. Compared to the uninvolved feeding style, authoritative and authoritarian feeding style categories were linked to lower odds of overweight. Feeding practices interacted with authoritative and authoritarian parenting styles to predict obesity: (1) healthful modeling was associated with 61% (OR = 0.39) reduced odds of obesity in children of authoritative mothers but with 55% (OR = 1.55) increased odds in children of non-authoritative mothers and (2) covert control was linked to 156% (OR = 2.56) increased odds of obesity in children of authoritarian mothers but with 51% (OR = 0.49) decreased odds in children of non-authoritarian mothers. Healthful modeling interacted with feeding style demandingness to predict overweight and with responsiveness to predict obesity. Findings suggest the need for research and interventions on mechanisms mediating between feeding practices and obesity in families characterized by non-authoritative parenting styles.
Here’s the notice:
This article has been retracted at the request of the Author and Editor in Chief due to serious errors in the data.
“Serious errors in the data” sounds pretty ominous. But the reality, according to Hubbs-Tait, is more mundane:
On October 24, I notified the action editor for “Relation of Parenting Styles, Feeding Styles and Feeding Practices to Child Overweight and Obesity: Direct and Moderated Effects” that I had found an error in the data for the manuscript and had tracked down the source of the error to a column switching mistake in copying data from one spreadsheet to another by a research assistant. The error was difficult to detect because the coefficients for internal consistency of all measures were acceptable as were the descriptive statistics for all measures.
As the lead investigator the responsibility for the error is mine. This error and our retraction are a reminder to all researchers that even if others have checked every item for every subject for implausible values, the lead investigator should re-run those analyses.
We regret the error and took immediate action to retract the paper.