EGGS ON THE HOT SEAT
Eggs hit the headlines again this week. In a piece for the Los Angeles Times, Melissa Healy reported that a study recently published in Atherosclerosis states eating three eggs a week is 60% as bad as smoking. I read the report in an Oregon newspaper on may way home from vacation and sighed in frustration.
The story read like a press release. The simplistic and limited design of the study reveals that very few other lifestyle factors were considered, including everything else that the subjects ate, their activity level, alcohol intake, or smoking patterns. That is like looking at the brand of footwear an athlete is using and claiming the gold medal is due to footwear without considering training, diet and any other factor.
It gets worse. The researchers are quoted in the story as saying, “We believe our study makes it imperative to reassess the role of egg yolks, and dietary cholesterol in general, as a risk factor for coronary heart disease.” Hogwash.
The study is an epidemiological study. It looked at patterns of intake among a group of people. These associations are just that. Associations. There is no capacity in this type of research to assume cause or effect. Yet the researchers assume their findings are significant enough to tell people to eat differently.
POOR SCIENCE, POOR JOURNALISM
Compounding the problem is the way journalists report the findings. There is no counterbalance to the claims. In these days of sketchy staffing, I don’t know if cleaning up and printing press releases is a quick and easy way to create copy, but it sure seems that way.
Ideally the journalist would question others to get perspective. They would look at other findings. A trusted resource would point out the flaws of the study and the over-reach of the authors. The public would not feel tossed around in a sea of misinformation based on the latest and sensationalist headlines.
What matters is how your body metabolizes food and it’s ultimate capacity to give you the energy you need for the day. In most cases, if you eat a good enough balance of whole foods, the individual nutrients take care of themselves. No one food makes or breaks your health status. The bottom line is whether your approach to food works, or not.