General Public’s Education in Health and Wellness

Posted: March 16, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Our education in the field of health and fitness seems to come from the majority of marketing campaigns and media attention. Let us take the Red Meat will kill you study that was released the other day. A group of Harvard researchers decided to poll people on how much animal protein they ate and the risk for heart disease and other means of mortality. This study was done by sending out surveys where people reported what they ate. Other studies have proven that people will underreport the “bad” foods and overreport the “good” foods. The survey showed that people eating more red meat had higher death rates. What they failed to take into consideration was the fact that more of the red meat eaters smoked cigarettes and were less likely to exercise. http://www.RobbWolf.com has a good write up on this whole study and how it means absolute nothing. Observational studies are not a proper means for evaluating data, there are just too many variables out of the researcher’s control.

One interesting thing about this study that was not even mentioned was the fact that the red meat eaters had lower total cholesterol! Red meat is supposedly linked to high cholesterol, but this study shows differently. Either way this study alone is not data to rely on (other research studies have also shown that animal protein does not increase cholesterol as well such as the Nurse’s Health Study,http://www.ajcn.org/content/70/2/221.short, and also here http://www.ajcn.org/content/80/5/1102.full ). It is a starting point to attempt to link a cause and effect. In my opinion the next step would be to see if red meat has protective properties to high cholesterol. Trying to do a study on food intake and lifestyle behaviors and how they link to disease is nearly impossible without locking the people in an institution.

The media took this study and spun it to make it “sexy” to the general public. This gets people to read their stuff. As the general public we need to educate ourselves better to not allow ourselves to be fooled. School systems need to teach kids at younger ages about proper research methodology. I did not even have a class explaining the differences in research methods until grad school. Without the proper education we are open to be fooled by poor research, especially performed at Harvard, and media stories.

The take home from this whole situation is we always need to be skeptical of everything. Don’t ever just take someone’s word for something, especially when it effects your health and wellness. Look through scientific journals and ask questions. I love when clients do this and any other healthcare practitioner should encourage it as well.

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Comments
  1. Kristie Raymond says:

    The media should take a look at our population and see how “sexy” a large portion of this country really is! What is the percentage of obesity in this country??!! The general public is so fooled by the media that they don’t even bother to look beyond the initial story to see what is true, what might be true and what isn’t true. You hit the nail on the head: Nutrition and health is all about education. As a parent, I can only hope that my interest and research into what might be best for my body will be evident and a path to follow for my daughter.

  2. wartica says:

    I agree ; don’t settle on anything – do the research and see what other sources say! Great post and I look forward to sharing more with you:)

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