Wednesday, February 08, 2006
"Should these results lead to any changes in public health recommendations? Absolutely not. Remember, the dietary goals of this study were not entirely reached, and there is enough reason to continue with research studies that would tighten up the weaknesses and then see the results." — Keith-Thomas Ayoob, nutrition and pediatrics professor, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
"We have known all this for a long time, which is why this extremely expensive diet trial part of the Women's Health Initiative failed scientific peer review when it was proposed, and only was funded by political intervention by Congress. It never had much scientific merit because it was not testing a good diet." — Dr. Meir Stampfer, chair, epidemiology department, Harvard School of Public Health
The full text of the study is available for free here, but its chief limitation is that it was performed in women ages 50-79. Here's a news flash for everyone - the number one cause of heart disease is aging. Changing your diet after you've already completed most of the aging process is not going to improve your chances of avoiding heart disease. It isn't even clear that following a special diet in your youth will decrease your risk of heart disease in old age (although it might decrease your chances of having heart disease at a young age.)
Things that increase the risk for heart disease the most also happen to be things that increase the rate of aging of the arteries , diabetes and smoking being chief among them. Diet (and cholesterol) make miniscule contributions.
posted by Sydney on 2/08/2006 08:45:00 AM 5 comments
One would hope this would stifle some of the food Nazis but, alas, as your quotes illustrate, this is unlikely. To paraphrase Dr. Peter Libby, who is cited in the NY Times review of these studies, people are loathe to abandon cherished theories just because they're not supported by the facts.
By 10:11 AM, at
I love that all of the editorialists and scientific critics have tossed the conclusions out and are at pains to explain away the findings with any explanation except that the null hypothesis is true. To add insult to injury most media are biasing their reports by describing the low fat diet as a healthy diet.
By 2:08 PM, at
I think this study is another in a long line of trials that are confusing the American people about what to eat and how much to exercise. This trial is a disaster for anyone involved in the battle to encourage Americans to shed pounds and move more.
I find it interesting that Americans got fatter exactly after the "eat less fat more carbs" recommendations came out. The cars had been around before that, McDonalds had been around before that.
By 6:42 PM, at
Thanks for your comments Kitty. I found them insightful. You might find it interesting to know that I am a also a big "believer" in evidence-based medicine. I'm not against studies in general, just those that sow confusion.