Where we get fit and spin (wool)

This article from the wall street journal might be misleading. I can’t say it is, since I have not seen the study. It supposedly shows a link between increased red meat consumption and the increase in type II diabetes. Researchers found a link between increased meat consumption, by as little as 1/2 a serving a day, and a greater risk of diabetes.

My question is, did they factor in the greater calories and weight gain  that increasing your consumption of any food would cause, since we know that being overweight will lead to greater diabetes risk? Did they separate out the consumption of “real” red meat vs processed, like hot dogs and lunch meat? It stated it was independent of body weight and quality of the rest of the diet, but what does that mean? It is also based on questionnaires, which are notoriously inaccurate.

The trouble with reading an article about a study is that you are getting conclusions twice removed. First, the authors of the study write a conclusion about the facts in their study. They can be drawing incorrect conclusions, or at least be suffering from bias. Then you are getting the conclusions that the author of the article drew from the conclusions of the authors of the study. Without being able to see the original study and taking the laborious amounts of time to go through the data to see if their conclusions are correct, you have to take some of this with a grain of salt. I have read enough arguments over studies to know that “facts” can be created from poor data collection, bias, poor study set up, and more. At least the author of this article did furnish a comment from a detractor of the study, so you have an idea of what other opinions are out there.

This is not to say that I am championing eating red meat in large quantities. Enough studies have been done to prove that less is more when it comes to red meat. However, it does seem counter intuitive to link red meat to diabetes, since it is sugar regulation that is affected by diabetes. I would love to know if they did control for the calorie increase, and how much the participants weighed, since being overweight is a strong factor in diabetes. This is one study I will remain skeptical of until more information is forthcoming.

I also don’t want it to sound like I am poo-pooing research. All dietary research is flawed, since we can’t do experiments in diets on people, it’s unethical. So to make up for the flaws, we have to keep doing lots of research, collecting lots of data, and spending lots of time analyzing and reviewing. Any information is better than no information.

I just had a great thought- what if they asked people to volunteer their information from all those diet/calorie tracking software programs? What a gold mine that would be! Plus, there wouldn’t be the inherent study bias, since the people would be turning over information they had previously gathered for themselves, with no unintended bias of pleasing the researchers.

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