Misleading artice in the newspaper…what else is new?

So this morning I was checking out the local newspaper for my area, The Orange County Register, and something caught my attention, “Do bike-helmet laws, free lunches make kids fatter?”

Here’s what’s misleading, the title made me believe that they were going to talk about how helmets are making kids fatter. But if you read the whole thing, its all about free lunches and kids eating way too much. The author of the article only touches on the helmet thing just a tad…In fact out of the 12 paragraph article, they only mentioned helmets in 2 sections, and it was quoting some guy.

“I think bicycle helmet laws, while well-intentioned to protect kids, probably have contributed to this as well, because when you make it more difficult for kids to exercise because maybe you’re concerned about his safety, sometimes you have a negative effect where the kids don’t do as much of it,? he said during the meeting.

Asked later to elaborate, Norby said he supported the state law that requires those under 18 to wear helmets, whether they’re on a bike, scooter, rollerblades or skateboard. But “I’d like to see more kids riding bikes, and I’d like to see more riding them to school. It’s important to have the bicycle helmet law, but we have to look at the unintended consequences of all laws, and also our own concerns and fears, because Orange County’s a very safe place for kids to play, and they should be outside playing.?

I thought there was going to be some scientific study that showed proof that helmets were making kids fatter…not, its just a matter of some guys opinion. Aye…maybe I’m just being sensitive here, but I swear, some of these journalists are too lazy to find out hard evidence such as studies, facts, or statistics about the subject matter at hand, especially when it comes to the subject of bicycles.

If you want to read this article, its over here


  1. Ghost Rider October 21, 2009 8:36 am 

    Ha…journalists. The headlines often mislead to capture attention to the rest of the article.

    But the helmet-law thing is similar to the case in Australia, where helmets are mandatory for ALL riders of all ages. The naysayers say this has the effect of making cycling less popular and increases the public health burden (probably due to increased sedentary lifestyles). Read more about that here:


    While I believe that folks should wear helmets (and kids DEFINITELY need to), I feel that adults should be allowed to choose for themselves. There’s enough tension in the cylce community without “helmet Nazis”!!!

  2. Ghost Rider October 21, 2009 8:37 am 

    Um, “cycle”. Gotta drink more coffee.

  3. Tony Bullard October 21, 2009 8:53 am 

    Here’s your answer: They put “Bicycle Helmet” in the headline, and it got you to not only read it, but link to it.

    They win, you lose.

  4. RL October 21, 2009 8:56 am 


    It was never a contest…I was merely proving a point about how this journalist didn’t take the time to do research for his article.

  5. elvezz October 21, 2009 9:26 am 

    I think the quote is right on.
    $30 helmets are a luxury for some of the most at poor diet at risk kids, heck the bikes cost $60. Fortunately the cops around here don’t enforce our 12 and under law.

  6. Ghost Rider October 21, 2009 9:42 am 

    elvezz, there are so many free helmet giveaways for kids that this is really a non-issue. I blame the parents — attending local bike rodeos or other helmet-giveaway venues is easy and painless. Laziness is no excuse — even if you can’t afford to purchase a helmet, there are other avenues.

    Why, here in Tampa a local bank is giving away thousands of helmets statewide:

  7. RL October 21, 2009 9:48 am 


    There are chock full of helmets at local thrift stores too. But with that, you gotta make sure they are not cracked or in any way damaged.

  8. Andy October 21, 2009 10:05 am 

    I believe it’s actually illegal to sell a used helmet. At least that’s what I was told at ski swaps when they wouldn’t accept ski helmets regardless of if they looked new.

    I’m split on this, although leaning more towards choice than law. I currently feel that wearing a helmet is a generally good idea, but I do realize that making it mandatory will result in less activity. For children that can easily make a mistake and crash, it makes sense for them to wear a helmet. As an experienced cyclist, I don’t feel like I do need a helmet all the time. For racing and off-road biking, I wouldn’t do it without one. Riding on rural roads when visibility and traffic is not an issue, I think riding helmet-less is fine as long as you are a safe rider. The funny part is that per hour of activity, driving and walking through cities actually has more injuries yet no one where’s a helmet for those. It’s all about what is ingrained as safe. And the second a bad driver hits a non-helmeted good cyclist, it’s automatically the cyclists fault in the media’s view.

  9. Pete Hummers October 21, 2009 10:32 am 

    mandatory helmet laws will make kids fatter as it will prevent many from riding in the first place, not to mention research published in September 2006 by Bath University in the UK suggesting that “bicyclists who wear protective helmets are more likely to be struck by passing vehicles”

    See http://www.cycle-helmets.com/

  10. Marrock October 21, 2009 11:19 am 

    Right now I choose to wear a styrofoam hat, but the moment the state tries to tell me I -have- to wear it… well, I’ll have a nice new hanging planter in the window.

    I’m weird that way, YMMV.

  11. Raiyn October 21, 2009 12:27 pm 

    I look at it this way: If you use a seat belt when driving (and “studies” say they’re not 100%) what’s the harm in giving yourself the same extra chance with a brain bucket?

  12. Dave October 21, 2009 12:51 pm 

    Bicycle helmets do not make kids fat. Junk food, TV, computer, non-exercising parents, cell phones, cars, etc. = fat. Fewer people were overweight 100+ years ago because, hey, they walked to go places, and better food was produced. They worked hard to do things to live – laundry, gardening, farming. Now we hop in the car to buy chips so we can sit in front of the computer/TV and ponder why the world is getting fatter. Could somebody please pass the Cheetos…

  13. Ghost Rider October 21, 2009 1:30 pm 

    @Raiyn, we’re on the same wavelength…I don’t understand the anti-helmet types out there. Sure, helmets are dorky-looking and can be hot, not to mention expensive. Still, isn’t a little bit of potential insurance a good idea?

    @Dave, I attended a public health conference many years ago that touched on some of those subjects — how suburbanization and the loss of walkable/liveable communities was responsible for the fattening of America and how it was a tremendous public health crisis in the making…

  14. clever-title October 21, 2009 6:46 pm 

    The author may have had more helmet content that got cut by the editor before it went to press. “Is your food killing you?” is journalism evergreen.

  15. R A N T W I C K October 21, 2009 9:41 pm 

    RL – You’re not being sensitive, you’re right on the money. I looked at his bio, and the quoted “Norby” doesn’t have anything to recommend him as an expert on bikes or helmets or safety. He’s just one more (elected) dude spouting off. That ain’t news, let alone headline news.

    I do love the way the mere mention of bike helmets on any blog gets people going. It’s like gravity. Let me see if I can fan the flames:

    Helmets are GREAT, plus they SUCK! Take that, you helmet lovin’ helmet haters!

  16. Stuart M. October 21, 2009 11:45 pm 

    A bit off topic, but I once read about a Kids-Bike-To-School project in England where schools (and classes within schools) competed against each other to pile up bicycle commuting miles. Even teachers got into the act (their miles counted double because they were “role models.”) The project was somehow tied into a round-the-world bicycle tour by a Brit who reported his mileage and whereabouts via the Internet. The article claimed the project was a big success.

  17. crazycommutingcyclist October 22, 2009 6:54 am 

    AP does all the work for the journalist out there so they can regurgitate the trashy poor excuse of investigational non-bias stories to us. I have read many studies on line, including a very similar study Ghost Rider flagged, and have come to the conclusion that it is all bunk.
    First: the studies that have been completed are constantly done incorrectly with comparing things that don’t match, so it is hard to get an accurate result. You can say ridership dropped because of the helmet laws but what other factors like population change of a city, cycling trends, and other factors that can influence the results.
    Second: I am an advocate for helmet use among all ages but there isn’t a study out there that can truly prove that bike helmets save lives. The data collected at each accident scene on what happened as the cyclist hit the objects is spotty and inconsistent at best. To be honest bike helmets may only lesson some injuries in some situation, prevent damage in others, or did not help at all. Either way my I’d rather take the chance on my helmet helping than not wearing it and know my risk of brain damage just could have increased 2 fold.
    It is not the helmets that make the kid fatter; it’s the parents who don’t let their children ride their bikes to school out of some irrational fear. Get the programs in that teach bike safety in the schools and run the event more than once a year and you should see a drop in children’s weight soon after.

  18. Elizabeth October 22, 2009 1:31 pm 

    I’m all for helmets and encouraging (strongly suggesting) helmet use. Adults should be able to choose to wear a helmet, but those riding with kids (who are donning the head protection) should also be following suit — Practice what I preach (and follow my example, too).

    In Illinois, seat belts are required by law. As RL pointed out, they are not 100% effective, yet drivers comply.

    As a Chicago lawyer who specializes in bike law has pointed out to me, he usually is again helmet laws, because cyclists not wearing one would be put at fault.

    He does clarify: “A good helmet law would provide for penalties for lack of helmet, but it should not be used by careless or reckless drivers to defend themselves against claims for injuries they cause.”

    Back in May of this year, a Chicago suburb created a bike helmet law that may “work” – http://chicagobikelaw.blogspot.com/2009/05/helmet-law-i-like.html

  19. elvezz October 23, 2009 6:42 am 

    Unfortunately there hasn’t been a helmet giveaway here in years and years. And that was city sponsored. If you can only buy your kid a Next bike, you can’t afford a helmet. I live in an economically disadvantaged area here and I see it.
    I’m just stoked to see any kid on a bike around here. If he gets hurt I’ll be paying for it anyway.

    Also, not to jump into the helmet debate but I never made my kids wear one and they never had a head injury. The seat belt comparison is not applicable. And if you extrapolate that argument, we should be wearing them in our vehicles.

  20. Raiyn October 23, 2009 12:49 pm 

    @ Elizabeth
    RL didn’t say anything about seat belts. I did. I also never said that they weren’t 100%, I said that “studies” had made that claim. I was taking a pot shot at the bogus studies that would claim marshmallows could cut diamonds under some insane conditions provided the study was funded by the Industrial Marshmallow Group.

  21. Raiyn October 23, 2009 12:49 pm 

    @ elvezz

    How exactly is the seat belt comparison not applicable? Both are simple to use devices used to reduce the risk of serious injury in their respective modes of transportation. It’s a simple measure that can potentially give you an extra chance at living – that’s the comparison.

  22. Chip Haynes October 27, 2009 3:17 am 

    For some years, I got a chuckle out of watching kids on bicycles coming home after school. The routine was uniform: Two blocks from home the cigarette gets pitched and the helmet goes on for the last block or so to the house. I saw so many kids with their bike helmet on the handlebars I thought there was a special fitting for it.

    These days, I have to admit: I don’t see any kids riding bikes at all, helmet or no helmet.

    It’s sad, really.

  23. Becki October 27, 2009 7:23 am 

    Journalists… This is almost as good as the common story line that goes…. “and the bicyclist fell under the car”, in a report on a bike- accident.

  24. r4i November 26, 2009 4:50 am 

    Very true, reading the title we think this is something interesting and we feel we should read it to know it but when we read it completely we come to know it was other way round and nothing related to the topic.

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