An amusing little coincidence of three stories that cross the desk here at Adam Smith Towers. Firstly, from Chris Blattman, the news that most published research is actually wrong:
Published medical science is deeply flawed. More often than not, when I’ve looked up a study claiming X, the statistics are deeply problematic. I suspect poor training and poor refereeing are proximately to blame, but there must be some deeper absence of incentives. It’s a shameful state of affairs.
The specific study that is being talked about here is the one that made everyone think that Omega 3 fatty acids were good for your heart. On hte basis that Inuit eaters of whale and seal blubber had less heart disease than everyone else. But they reached this conclusion without actually looking at the incidence of heart disease in Inuits who ate whale and seal blubber. something of a leap from evidence to conclusion there.
The second is about a new movie, “Fed Up”, from the people who brtought you “An Inconvient Truth”. Although Al Gore is a little porky to present this extravaganza, given that it’s about how the modern food industry makes everyone obese.
The problem at hand, of course, is the standard American diet, especially in its current iteration, which took shape in the early 1980s after the commencement of the official “eat food lower in fat” recommendations. Those recommendations led to a 25 percent increase in the per-capita supply (and indeed consumption) of calories.
Yes, it is indeed a problem. But as Mark Bittman goes on, the rest of it is all to rail about the amount of sugar that is in the current diet. Which is again something of a problem, for here’s our third piece of news:
Last week it fell to a floundering professor, Jeremy Pearson, from the British Heart Foundation to explain why it still adheres to the nutrition establishment’s anti-saturated fat doctrine when evidence is stacking up to refute it. After examining 72 academic studies involving more than 600,000 participants, the study, funded by the foundation, found that saturated fat consumption was not associated with coronary disease risk. This assessment echoed a review in 2010 that concluded “there is no convincing evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease”.
The sugar (and also the salt) is in all our foods because it’s the only way to make it taste of anything if there’s no animal fats around. So, let us assume that there is an epidemic of obesity (on the grounds that we should take peoples’ arguments seriously, at the very least so that we can see where they lead) and that it is being caused by sugar in our food. Well, what caused that? The previous generation of prodnoses telling us all not to eat saturated fats.
At which point clearly we should tell them all to (mumble mumble) off and we’ll get on with filling our bellies in our own manner, thank you very much. For they don’t actually know what they’re talking about.
Yes, that is my caramelised pork crackling over there……could you pass the butter? It’s a tad dry…