Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Trust lifts embargo early on state obesity rankings after AP independently finds data

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tfahHere’s another reminder of why it’s important to pay attention to the nuances of early embargo lift announcements.

Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) puts out an annual report — along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation — that ranks American states and the District of Columbia by obesity rates. The findings rely to a large extent on CDC data — that will be important in a moment — and the report was embargoed until next Tuesday, August 20, until last night, when TFAH sent this message to its media list:

MEDIA ADVISORY: EMBARGO LIFTED for F AS IN FAT 2013

ANNUAL REPORT ON STATE OBESITY RANKINGS, ALSO INCLUDES OBESITY RATE TRENDS BY REGION, AGE, GENDER, EDUCATION AND INCOME 

Some of the information in this report was published early. 

The embargo on F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2013 has lifted.

The full PDF is available and the news release is pasted below. We also have state specific releases available.  

The report, from Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), includes annual rates and rankings of adult obesity in the 50 states and District of Columbia.

It also includes obesity rate trends by region, age, gender, education and income. In addition, the report features rates of “extreme” obesity and a breakdown of rates by age group for young adults, Millennial/Gen Xers, Baby Boomers and seniors.

Experts from Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are available to comment.

A quick read of that message might suggest that someone had broken the embargo. But here’s what actually happened: Associated Press (AP) reporter Mike Stobbe — disclosure: a good friend of mine — dug up much of the data himself from the CDC, which had released a breakdown of their data on Monday. Stobbe’s story yesterday didn’t mention the TFAH report, but when TFAH realized that the findings were the same, and based on the same raw data, they realized they couldn’t very well keep an embargo on something that was publicly available.

So kudos all around — to Stobbe for enterprise reporting, and to TFAH for doing the right thing.

Written by Ivan Oransky

August 16, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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