Posts Tagged ‘causal inference’

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 […]

Ultra-Processed Food: Correlation Without Cause

April 22, 2023 — An “impassioned polemic” is headed our way from British media doctor Chris van Tulleken and it aims to have us excise ultra-processed from our dietary habits. No doubt about it, ultra-processed food wins the prize for today’s best food boogeyman, but how wise is this bit of food fear based on correlation without a cause. […]

Unwanted Weight Loss Is Cause for Concern (duh)

April 13, 2023 — This news just rolled in from the department of DUH at JAMA Network Open. Unwanted weight loss in older persons is a cause for concern. Perhaps some people have sailed through life without seeing a loved one wither when they suffer a devastating illness. But for most of us, this is not a big news […]

Headline Fantasies: Coffee and Obesity

March 17, 2023 — “Coffee could slash obesity,” says the New York Post. Now you might think that cynical folks at the Post just make this stuff up because it’s so obviously false. But in fact, they have help from PR by the BMJ, and they’re not alone. The BMJ managed to induce quite a few news outlets last […]

How Much Does It Matter When You Exercise?

February 24, 2023 — The headlines make us dizzy. “For a longer life, afternoon exercise may be best,” says the Washington Post. “Morning Workouts May Lower Your Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke,” according to Verywell Health. However, BBC offers yet another view with a headline saying, “Best exercise time may differ for men and women.” Despite the wild variations […]

Teasing Out Causality in Obesity and Depression

December 23, 2022 — Causality in the relationship between obesity and depression is mighty hard to discern in a rigorous way. For clinicians, it seems obvious that obesity creates a risk for depression. Likewise, the observation that depression in some patients can lead to obesity is easy to find. But understanding that causal relationship is a challenge. Mere association […]