Granny Smiths

Can Granny Smith Save Us from Obesity?

Washington State ApplesGranny Smith is sitting on top of our list of entertaining and distorted health news reporting. The press office at Washington State University issued a headline promising, “An Apple a Day Could Keep Obesity Away.”

Hmmm. Washington State. Could it be that Big Apple is behind these reports? We searched the research report and found no declaration of financial conflicts. Nothing to worry about.

But still, these headlines seem too good to be true:

  • Granny Smith Leads in the Obesity Fight
  • A Granny Smith Apple Every Day May Keep You Slim
  • An Apple a Day Keeps the Fat Away
  • An Apple a Day Helps Keeps Disorders Linked with Obesity at Bay

Talk about willing suspension of disbelief! And this is just a small sample of dozens of headlines. Hey, if it’s about apples, what’s the harm?

We took a deep breath and read the study. The research has no data whatsoever on obesity, fat, slimness, or obesity-related diseases. The investigators did an analysis of Granny Smith Apples for their content of compounds thought to have beneficial health effects and compared them to other types of apples. Granny Smiths had more extractable phenolics, non-extractable proanthocyanidins, and dietary fiber.

They also looked at the effect of fermenting Granny Smith Apples in a test tube with feces from mice with diet-induced obesity. Lovely. The result they found was an abundance of bacteria similar to what you find in lean mice.

It’s a big leap from mixing Granny Smith with feces in a test tube to proclaiming that the Granny Smith is leading the fight against obesity.

Click here to read the study and here to read the story from Washington State University.

Granny Smiths, photograph © Nic Taylor / flickr

Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.