Monday, November 27, 2006

Junkfood Science

You may notice a new blog on my blogroll -- Junkfood Science. I only discovered on Tuesday that one of my favorite sane people has her own blog. I have read Sandy Szwarc, RN, BSN, CCP, for a couple of years now at Techcentral Station. (I was unable to give you a direct link to her series. If you are interested, use the link above, then under authors, look her up and it will take you to her archives.) She wrote a crackerjack series there on the moral panic (although, I'm not certain that she calls it that) about obesity and food that we are experiencing these days. Her writing is firmly rooted in science and she recognizes the misuse of research and pseudoscience in creating a false epidemic of obesity in order to sell products and services which, at best are useless, at worst are harmful and sometimes deadly. Hers is a voice of reason in the wilderness, and I can not recommend her too highly.

This quote from a recent post, Have your steak and enjoy it too! gives you an idea of the flavor of her writing and the solid, good sense of her information:
When it comes to food and health news, the saturation of media coverage is usually inversely proportional to the soundness of the research. Sensational claims sell a lot of newspapers, lure viewers and listeners, and create good buzz. The trouble is, most of us don't realize we're getting Hitchcock-like fiction when we turn on the news. With last week's scare du juor "red meat increases risk for breast cancer" no mainstream news reporter took a critical look at the study they were reporting, preferring to simply pass along the press release. No one except Steve Milloy, of course, who wrote an excellent review here.
Our first clue that there was something more afoot in this media blitz than brilliant science, is that this one study, out of the thousands of new studies released every single day, was reported in every media outlet, on the exact same day, all saying the exact same thing. This is evidence of brilliant marketing, but not much more. Like everything in media today, it deserves viewing with the same skepticism as you would any other commercial. The study wasn't nearly as well done as its marketing...
What more could I possibly say? Visit her. Visit her series on Techcentral Station.


Chancy said...

Maya, I have noticed and commented aloud on the "media blitz" about the hyped food scare.

Soon only water and the air we breathe will be non caloric and safe to consume. But who is sure about either of those two.

Sandy said...

Dear Maya,

Wow, you positively made my day. Thank you so much for your kind comments!


Oh and yes, I would characterize it as a moral panic, with awful prejudices exploited by a few $$trillions of special interests. :))