Bogus Study: An Investigation of the Diet, Exercise, Sleep, BMI, and Health Outcomes of Autistic Adults

There was a study published on May 8, 2021 in the Journal Molecular Autism by Simon Baron-Cohen, Carrie Allison, Ken K. Ong and Elizabeth Weir. These names should sound familiar because they are also running Spectrum 10k

This study they are basing the understanding that some autistic children have restrictive eating, reduced physical activity and sleep issues. This is not always true. To understand this in adults, they created this study for autistic adults to participate in. 

They do not cite the studies they are describing that yielded these results. 

Survey as Data Collection

They used a survey for data collection. They had 1183 respondents. The respondents were 16-90 so not all of the respondents were adults. This is a small sample size to represent autistic adults everywhere. Not only that, the demographic was only white, AFAB and have a high school education or higher. This sample size was in no way diverse! 

Why aren't surveys reliable?

A survey is not a scientific method. There is no way that the responses of an anonymous survey can be verified. There is not guarantee that people would only answer honestly. It is far too easy for people to misrepresent themselves behind a computer screen. There is often a reason to misrepresent. Because of this fact, a question is raised of whether or not surveys can provide accurate data. 

There is solid evidence that surveys are unreliable and gives skewed results. This is a systematic problem that there are a plethora of studies focused on a phenomena called hypothetical bias. 

Results

This survey resulted with autistic adults and teenagers saying that they exhibit unhealthy died, exercise and sleep patterns. They deducted that they are more likely to be underweight or obese. The limited sleep cannot be accounted for by epilepsy or seizure disorders. They deducted that this is due to only life style. 

Major Thing They Missed

So the very people who tried proving there was a link between PCOS and autism have no understanding of what PCOS is. He did not even ask to see if the participants have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which causes weight gain, insulin resistance and a lot of the other things that were asked about in this survey. This study was posted online during PCOS awareness month. Very interesting. 

Sources:

https://www.greenbook.org/mr/market-research-methodology/why-surveys-cannot-be-trusted/

https://molecularautism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13229-021-00441-x


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