Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Junk Food, Junk Science

Tim pointed me in the direction of this freak-of-the-week article from CNN.com, which profiles Kansas State University nutrition professor Mark Haub, who ate a diet consisting of two-thirds junk food (Twinkies, Doritos, Oreos, etc.) for ten weeks to "prove" that "in weight loss, pure calorie counting is what matters most -- not the nutritional value of the food."

Lo and behold, he ended up dropping 27 pounds. But to do so, he severely restricted his daily caloric intake, and went on a starvation diet. Is it any wonder that a person who takes in significantly fewer calories than his body burns will end up converting some fat and muscle to energy? Starving people do tend to lose weight, you know.

The article also points out, however, that other biomarkers of health improved, including his cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
"That's where the head scratching comes," Haub said. "What does that mean? Does that mean I'm healthier? Or does it mean how we define health from a biology standpoint, that we're missing something?"
But wait a second:

Did he test his LDL particle size and density? What about his blood glucose levels? Did he take a hemoglobin A1c test? How's his insulin sensitivity? Did he exercise during his diet? And what the fuck was Haub eating BEFORE he went on his junk food diet? Without these answers, Haub's results don't amount to a hill of beans.

(P.S.: Since when do we draw conclusions based on the results of a self-administered "study" with a sample size of ONE PERSON? Answer: When it's a slow news day, and the media needs an attention-grabbing headline.)