Posts Tagged ‘causal inference’

Kimchi for the Win in Obesity? Not Really

February 10, 2024 — The setup has been great. Kimchi lands near the top of the list of “must-eat fermented foods for a healthy gut.” On top of that, nutrition gurus advise us “food is medicine” and a fermented food diet “increases microbiome diversity and decreases inflammatory proteins.” So we should be ready to believe when a study tells […]

Plant-Based Diets Cut COVID Risk? Not Exactly

January 20, 2024 — We do admire the tenacity of folks who promote the virtues of a plant-based diet. But that admiration stops when we move on to the dimension of scientific rigor and objectivity. In BMJ Nutrition, Prevention, and Health, a group of researchers are claiming that plant-based diets “may be considered protective against COVID-19 infection.” The only […]

Oops: A Retraction on UK Soft Drink Taxes

December 12, 2023 — An amicable discussion about evidence for the effectiveness of soft drink taxes can be, well, somewhat taxing. Scientists with genuine curiosity about this subject often seem harder to find than true believers. But disappointment has come for those true believers. Because some of the evidence to back their firm beliefs in soft drink taxes recently […]

Vegan Diet Cuts Risk of Heart Disease After Two Months?

December 1, 2023 — Enthusiastic promoters of vegan diets are quite happy with headlines coming out of Stanford today. The Times of London captured the aspirational promise with their headline quite well: “Vegan diet cuts risk of heart disease after two months.” The Stanford University PR department was a little more subtle. They merely said “a vegan diet improves […]

The Difference Between Measured and Imagined Life Expectancy

November 26, 2023 — As an article of faith, we like to believe that healthy habits will lead us to a longer life. So of course, it makes sense to develop healthy habits for eating, enjoy an active life, and get enough good sleep every night. But putting a number on the benefit of those habits is not so […]

Ultra-Processed, Hyper-Palatable Pumpkin Spice Lattes

September 30, 2023 — We hate to be the bearer of bad news. But those pumpkin spice lattes that define the pleasure of fall are both ultra-processed and hyper-palatable. In other words, they spell doom for our dietary health. That is, they do if we accept the current presumption that UPF and HPF explain all that is increasingly unhealthy […]

Food Is Medicine! Regression to the Mean Proves It!

September 6, 2023 — A sure way to make a good program look bad is to offer up flawed evidence for its benefits. Then call it the biggest and best evaluation ever. So it is with a study of Food Is Medicine, impaired by a problem with regression to the mean. That little problem does not stop some pretty […]

The MIND Diet Comes Up Short in Dementia

July 19, 2023 — New research today in the New England Journal of Medicine offers an important lesson – for anyone with an open mind. Finding an association of a dietary pattern with a better health outcome is not the same as showing that a dietary pattern has that effect. Eight years ago, Martha Clare Morris and colleagues told […]

Does Low Education Bring an Earlier Death?

July 3, 2023 — A new Mendelian randomization study brings a disciplined look at the question of why social and economic status correlates with lifespan. Such questions are hard to answer with certainty, so this new publication in Nature Human Behavior is quite welcome. Chao-Jie Ye and colleagues found a causal association between education and longevity in populations of […]

Shaky Confidence in Nutrition Science

June 20, 2023 — Two researchers from the Harvard Medical School tell us we cannot have confidence in findings the World Health Organization gleaned from nutrition science related to sweeteners. But the problem is not limited to sweeteners. Writing in the New York Times, Anupam Jena and Christopher Worsham say the problem afflicts much of nutrition research: “This is […]