Can the British Nutrition Foundation count? Possible error in survey results….

Error in British Nutrition Foundation survey! Fail!

Well today I couldn’t help but notice all the hype from a press release from the British Nutrition Foundation claiming that 29% of children thought cheese came from plants, and nearly 10% believe fish fingers to be made from chicken… So I was going write an article and share my insights with you so started my due diligence into the accuracy of this (as I do with every post) to ensure that my information was up to date and correct.

Now with a little searching (and waiting for their extremely slow website to load) I came across the original press release here: http://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritioninthenews/pressreleases/healthyeatingweek

So in the article (and on all the 100’s of websites that have syndicated it) the claim is that 27,500 children were surveyed for these results… The original release includes the geographic breakdown by country and Primary or Secondary school as follows:

1. The research was conducted among 27,500 children of primary and secondary school age across the UK. Samples from each participating country were as follows:

• England: Primary – 9,575; Secondary – 10,742

• Scotland: Primary – 1,794; Secondary – 3,763

• Wales: Primary – 323; Secondary – 449

• Northern Ireland: Secondary – 1,458

So obviously you’d expect these demographics to add up to 27,500….

Error in British Nutrition Foundation survey! Fail!I was pretty shocked when I added these up to get the portion of primary school children to allow me to work out the numbers behind the percentages to get 28,104. Believing I had made an error typing it in I did the simple addition again and got the same result…

I got a total of 11692 primary school children, with a total of 16412 secondary school children giving a total of 28,104 participants.

I’ve always been wary of statistics when used to promote a cause and in this case with such a simple error here, and doubt as to the actual number of participants the survey is called into question. As the introduction to the article says 29% of primary school children, and adding up the numbers of primary and secondary school children doesn’t give the quoted 27,500 its impossible to work out just how many children this 29% actually is…

Sorry British Nutrition Foundation, in this case I think you have some explaining to do….

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