Scandal Rocks Diet Research – Tips You Rely on Exposed #health #diet #nutrition #weightloss

bell shaped curveEuropean science was once so quaint. A wealthy family’s second son ensconced in a small parsonage in the country was free to classify local butterflies. Or perhaps the lord himself financed his own laboratory to study whatever he wanted. Sometimes a poorer soul might rise from employment under a Great Man (yes, mostly men!) or receive a scholarship, as Isaac Newton did at Cambridge in 1664.

Innocent days are gone. A craving for glory always created some scientific fraud, but the motivation seems to be growing. Big science is big business, requires big money, and can yield big rewards if a lab produces big results. This can be insidious, because if you receive fame and fortune for what you do, it’s easy to believe that what you do must be right. Especially in a field like nutrition, where there’s so much public interest, and lots of money to be made, sometimes, mistakes happen. Sometimes studies go “down in flames in a beefy statistics scandal.”

An internal investigation by a faculty committee found that ‘Professor Wansink committed academic misconduct in his research and scholarship, including misreporting of research data, problematic statistical techniques, failure to properly document and preserve research results, and inappropriate authorship.’

That’s a politely phrased condemnation, and may derail the careers of grad students who did the dirty work for him.

You may not recognise Wansink’s name, but if you buy 100 calorie snack packages, you’ve been fooled by his research. Ditto for using small plates to trick your brain into thinking you ate more, or hiding potato chips on the top shelf to help you lose weight. Read more truisms that have been retracted here. Maybe your favorite tip is among them.

Retraction Watch logo

Here’s a good place to keep an eye on scientific findings

Fortunately for science, you, and me, reality is a powerful force, and there are always researchers willing to challenge a famous author. As a consumer of science, avoid becoming anyone’s acolyte, don’t get too emotionally invested in someone else’s position, and keep reading, even if only in the popular press. Good consumers, like good scientists, are honestly open minded.

It often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. Carl Sagan

Let’s all make Carl proud.

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When Banned Foods Turn Good – What in the World is Going On? How Will I Know it All? Why Do These Things Happen? Cause It’s Hard #nutrition #science #research #data #poetry #poem #humannature

Science inspired poetry by Kate Rauner

Rats are easier to study

It’s hard to study humans,
They live so very long.
Observing generations
Can’t complete before you’re gone.

They fib on every survey form,
Eat more than they say,
Exercise much less than claimed,
And forget along the way.

Confounding factors multiply
Throughout the lives they lead.
Their choices vary wildly,
Statistics can’t succeed.

They’ll never match a rat for tests,
But if you lure them
to your lab,
You’re not allowed to lock the door,
It’s enough to drive you mad.

By Kate Rauner

Brought to mind by a Forbes article suggesting an ounce or two of cheese a day, even full-fat cheese, may not be bad for you and could even be beneficial. The new study was published in the European Journal of Nutrition. Researchers used data from 15 earlier studies that followed their participants for 10 years. I’ve often seen articles contradict each other over nutritional and exercise claims. Part of that is, the popular media tends to make too much of a fuss over each new study because no one clicks on “maybe,” “suggests,” “slight change,” or “never mind” in the headline. But part of the problem is, it’s hard to study humans in the wild.

The Problem of #Food – a Poem by Kate Rauner

Chapulines

Chapulines – crickets – right across America’s southern border. These should be an easy sell for Cinco De Mayo.

Seven billion people
With nutrition lacked by half.
Some lack sufficient calories
While others sink in fat.
What can we do?
What can be done?
Do we need a Green
Revolution?
With dignity
We can thrive,
Expanding views
Of who’s in our tribe.
GMOs, not our doom,
Nor, alone, salvation
Fewer kids, better fed,
Can be our decision.
For gentle commerce
To feed us all
We must stop
The ways of war.
Taste buds from the Pleistocene,
Love our modern foods.
Love sweet and salt, and fat,
And things we needn’t chew.
The problem’s vast,
But don’t despair.
Answers are near,
Cause we’re smart,
And we care.

Thanks to nationalgeographic.com for a reminder of this issue – which may be more about distribution and choices than our global ability to grow food.

I like the phrase “gentle commerce.” See my review (as Ponderer) of the book Better Angels of Our Natures, which may provide some small comfort in this age of terrorism. My friend and I also posted on GMOs.

One concept that intrigues me is insects as food. Americans eat some weird looking things (consider crayfish) but we haven’t embraced insects. I read somewhere that food prejudices are the last prejudices we’re proud of – but that may change.