I read an article on NPR discussing  the issue of self reported data when it comes to fitness and exercise. The author of the paper in question essentially came to the verdict that self reported data is such a poor measurement of actual energy intake and expenditure that it has “no place in scientific research”.

Those be fighting words.

I tend to agree with him to some extent, in my own limited experience running this blog. Depending on the person submitting their data here, I’ve seen vastly different strategies of reporting, not to mention vastly different ideas of what is considered and not considered exercise. Some people like to report everything, while others  like my brother Mike rarely reports in despite being very active. In terms of gleaning valuable population-based information . . . there is just too much to control for. The variance model will literally explode.

That being said, I also think that from a health standpoint, keeping track of your own activity, whatever you deem that to be is incredibly beneficial. You keep yourself honest when you have many blank days on the calendar. Regardless of what you choose to submit, as long as you remain consistent in how and what you choose to report, the information can be helpful.

What do you guys think? Is it risky to draw health-care related conclusions based on self-reported user data? As we move into a much more analytical society where everything is “captured”, is it trustworthy enough to start making health care decisions on that data set?

It is an interesting question to say the least.