So, I was listening to one of the 3 or 4 audio books* that I listen to each week (I’m not just a personal trainer, I’m a science nerd, remember?) and I came across some interesting facts about the media and how they interpret scientific studies and, more often than not, make up a load of crap to try sell more copies of whatever it is they are selling.
*audio books are actual books but they get read to you while driving
i.e. I’m too busy (lazy) to actually ‘read’ a book.
The book basically looks at any sensationalist claims that are made in a BS scientific study or in the media and looks at the evidence
behind it (If there is evidence, of course) and proceeds to tear it apart. It is like this guy wrote this book for me, and me alone.
I hate big headline, sensationalist claims because they are almost always complete hype, usually a waste of time, and sometimes even HARMFUL to the general public.
For example, one of the studies that was ‘critiqued’ suggested that all exercise, including personal training, makes you GAIN weight and you shouldn’t bother doing it at all.
The study in question DID show that supervised exercise (personal training) resulted in no extra fat loss in obese individuals but it was ONE study of 47. I haven’t read all of the studies in question but my understanding of this is: Out of hundreds and even thousands of people in the 47 studies, ONE group didn’t lose weight and the dumb-hole journalist decided to report on the single group that suggests that sitting at home and eating cake is just as effective as exercising at helping people lose weight. . .
This wasn’t in the book but do you remember the study that linked fish oil to prostate cancer in men and the other study that said high protein diets were as dangerous as smoking on your health? All of these studies are either completely flawed in their design, some stupid correlation = causation study or some clown of a journalist who would be better off looking up a dogs arse is misinterpreting the results of the study. Phew, I’m getting angry just thinking about it.
I know, they want to sell copies of a newspaper or magazine. That is fair enough. There is no need to put people in harms way in order to do so. Surely they can find some pics of Kim Kardashians arse or a story about a monkey who can jump through hoops to sell copies rather than put people’s lives at risk.
Telling people that exercise taking things like fish oils and whatever else can make you fat, sick or even kill you is nonsense and most people will see through it….But some won’t….
So, boys and girls, I guess the take home message is: Don’t take the newspaper or magazines word on ANYTHING spectacular or sensationalist when it pertains to health/fitness or nutrition. (unless it’s an article by yours truly of course).
Bryan Kavanagh BSc. CSCS
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