Politics, Research, and Your Health: Importance of Accurate Research Design
I had a good laugh reading Nutrition Facts' article about the dairy industry misleading study design. We have been after all talking a little about how to read contradictory research articles - and here is a great example of such contradiction.
Not that I have anything against dairy, I do love cheese, although eat it sparingly, but I also read A LOT of research on different foods, it is after all part of my job.
So let's take a look at the article, The Dairy's Misleading Study Design (Greger, 2023, Article).
Notice that this is not about the politics of plant-based against meat, dairy, and egg industries. This is simply about an industry that knows how to bend the design and method of research to arrive to conclusions that are misleading. In their case, the contradiction that dairy and beef actually lower cholesterol.
The design of a research is essential for accurate findings. You already know by now after reading our two article I and article II that our belief system about 'reality' does shape up how we approach research.
But what about the design itself? How do we actually 'do research'?
This is where the research design comes in: For example, we can compare certain groups of people that eat certain foods and then test for specific markers, and ask - which group shows the healthier markers?
Greger (2023) gives an excellent example of skewing results with a specific design by the meat industry. Their design was indeed shady, and here you see the power of politics - an influential and wealthy industry that bends the rules of 'doing research' and getting away with it.
Beef has saturated fat and the industry wanted to show that eating beef does not raise cholesterol, so they designed a research that cut everything else from the diet that has saturated fat out - dairy, eggs, pork, poultry - and indeed, cholesterol levels did go down. The saturated fat that these participants typically ate was cut by half (Roussell et al., 2012; Greger, 2023).
Obviously, that is not a good design. If they had a 'control' group that ate beef plus the other foods as usual, and were up front that they want to see what happens when only beef is eaten, then we may have accepted this as not politically twisted design. But alas, the whole point is to market more beef as food that actually lowers cholesterol, when evidence and findings elsewhere contradict this type of design.
Another misleading design is done by a comparing three groups of people eating either high carbohydrate, dairy, or beef. The diets are compared and dairy and beef show lowering of cholesterol - how? By simply having each group eat the same amount of fats. But the carb group had a lot of coconut oil, and of course sugary carbs (Thorning et al., 2015; Greger, 2023).
Greger's article is fun, and worthy to read. It is humorous and makes excellent points about the political influence of powerful food industries that bend research and conceal the facts. We can enjoy beef and dairy (organic of course) - and at the same time - we know that a little goes a long way.
- Greger, M. (2023, February 2). The Dairy Industry Misleading Study Design. NutritionFacts, Article.
- Roussell, M. A., Hill, A. M., Gaugler, T. L., West, S. G., Vanden Heuvel, J. P., Alaupovic, P., ... & Kris-Etherton, P. M. (2012). Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet study: effects on lipids, lipoproteins, and apolipoproteins. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 95(1), 9-16. Article
- Thorning, T. K., Raziani, F., Bendsen, N. T., Astrup, A., Tholstrup, T., & Raben, A. (2015). Diets with high-fat cheese, high-fat meat, or carbohydrate on cardiovascular risk markers in overweight postmenopausal women: a randomized crossover trial. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 102(3), 573-581. Article
Yours as always,
Dohrea Bardell, PhD President BioImmersion Inc.
We have developed our products based on scientific research and/or the practical experience of many healthcare practitioners. There is a growing body of literature on food based nutrition and supplements and their application in support of our health. Please use our products under the advisement of your doctor.
And more from Greger: A video: BOLD Indeed: Beef Lowers Cholesterol. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/bold-indeed-beef-lowers-cholesterol/
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