Aug 10, 2015

hell has frozen over

I rarely read newspapers anymore. I'll glance at headlines but they've lost my trust over the years. Any time there is an article on science, business, or health its always just an epic fail. So why would I expect he rest of the newspaper to be any better.

This one caught my eye though.

Here's the salient crux of the article: The whole idea of breakfast being the most important meal of the day is bunk.

Anyone who has read along on this blog probably already understands why this was obvious but nevertheless the rest of the article was surprisingly good. Here are some quotes in particular that caught my eye.
At 8:30 in the morning for four weeks, one group of subjects got oatmeal, another got frosted corn flakes and a third got nothing. And the only group to lose weight was ... the group that skipped breakfast.
Once again I'm sure long-time readers can spot the obvious problem. Hint: carbs.
This year, as the Dietary Guidelines are being updated, the credibility of its nutritional commandments has been called into question by a series of scientific disputes. Its advisory committee called for dropping the longstanding warning about dietary cholesterol, which had long plagued the egg industry; prominent studies contradicted the government warnings about the dangers of salt; and the government’s longstanding condemnation of foods rich in saturated fats seems simplistic, according to critics, given the ever more intricate understanding of the nutrition in fatty foods.
Surprisingly no hemming and hawing here. Just straightforward facts that are correct. Dietary cholesterol is not unhealthy. Salt is not unhealthy. Saturated fat is not unhealthy.
One of the key pieces of evidence, for example, examined the records for 20,000 male health professionals. Researchers followed the group for 10 years and published results in 2007 in the journal Obesity. They showed that after adjusting for age and other factors, the men who ate breakfast were 13 percent less likely to have had a significant weight gain.
Again I'm sure you can spot the obvious problem. Hint: 20,000 records guarantees it's an observational study.

At this point I'm kind of surprised and waiting for some garbage to appear. Instead it gets even better.
One of the primary troubles in observational studies is what scientists refer to as “confounders” — basically, unaccounted factors that can lead researchers to make mistaken assumptions about causes. For example, suppose breakfast skippers have a personality trait that makes them more likely to gain weight than breakfast eaters. If that’s the case, it may look as if skipping breakfast causes weight gain even though the cause is the personality trait.
Bingo. Confounding variables. All you really need to know is in those two words. And why observational studies are NOT science. Period.
Relying on observational studies has drawn fierce criticism from many in the field, particularly statisticians. S. Stanley Young, former director of bioinformatics at the National Institute of Statistical Sciences has estimated that for observational studies in the medical field, “over 90 percent of the claims fail to replicate” — that is they cannot be replicated later by more exacting experiments.
Statisticians have been criticizing observational studies? Really? Why haven't the newspapers been reporting on this. I've never seen a single article about this. And good for them.

Also who is S. Stanley Young and why have I not heard of him before. This guy is the hero we need. Unfortunately this guy has not written a book or I would have purchased all of them before this sentence was done.

And finally in case you missed it. 90% of observational study claims are wrong. Or said another way, if you did the opposite of what observational studies told you to do you'd be much healthier. 90% wrong. 90%!!!!! Understand why I say these studies are not merely bad but horribly misleading and frankly dangerous?

Then this from Linda Van Horn, a professor of nutrition and preventative medicine at Northwestern University who was the chair of the 2010 advisory committee who used flaky observational studies to recommend that the government recommend eating breakfast in its Dietary Guidelines.
“Regardless of the evidence though, it might be important for you to recognize the value of eating breakfast due to its frequent inclusion of higher fiber containing foods,” her e-mail said. “As you are no doubt aware, Americans eat only about half of the recommended amount of dietary fiber.”
Did you see that? "Regardless of the evidence". Regardless! Regardless? What? Are they holding seances and ouji board session to determine health policy over there? Regardless? What the fuck is this dolt talking about? Someone that stupid should never be chairing anything. Ever.

Overall a very well written article. But don't wade into the comment section. I'm warning you. It's a regurgitation of observational study bunk.

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