Really bad junk science

Apart from the ‘science’ of Carbon Dioxide caused ‘Man made Climate Change’, there is one area where really bad junky science is trumpeted as ‘TRUTH’, oh-yes-it-is and you’re a filthy ‘denier’ for even doubting it (Or so say those who’ve got lumbered with too many ‘carbon credits’ in their investment portfolios), and that’s in the diet ‘industry’.

Todays little epistle comes from a Skype conversation with Youngest, when she told Mrs S and I that she and her friend had gone to get their ‘Fat indexes’ checked.

Well isn’t that responsible of them? Two young women in their early 20’s keeping an eye on their health, taking responsibility for their dietary choices and keeping well. Both are fitness fanatics who use the gym at least 3 times a week, Youngest runs half Marathons every month or so, runs almost every day. I might also point out that Youngest and friend both have bikini fit bodies with hardly an ounce of additional flesh visible. Having had them as house guests, and been their house guest at various times over the past four years I can personally attest to this, as they were prone to wander mildly hungover through kitchens (My traditional habitat) in their underwear first thing in the morning, and swimsuits later in the day when they’d had an afternoon dip at our old place. Which can do strange (but very pleasant) things to an older mans mind. Subsequent decorous hugs of greeting have confirmed their lack of unwanted body fat. And? I still have a pulse you know.

However, what made me sit up in amazement was Youngest’s announcement that both of them were found to be borderline ‘obese’ with a body fat index of 30. “Seriously?” I guffawed. Ten pounds each lighter and these two girls would be borderline malnourished. Whoever administered the test, I opined, should have gone to SpecSavers. No, I was told; the test was done twice and still arrived at the same result. I asked if the test equipment was faulty. No, I was told, the gyms equipment had been checked the week before. Then perchance had the tester possessed no more than a room temperature IQ with only the haziest notion of how to administer said test? Again, a somewhat indignant ‘no’ came my way. At this point the subject was changed.

Then again this should come as no surprise, having seen the maladministration of ‘dietary science’ on more than one occasion. Examples include those unfortunate people now regularly dosed with Statins, suffering side effects like muscle aches, memory loss and even an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, then finding out that dietary cholesterol does not necessarily equal blood cholesterol (Don’t take my word for all this – look it up yourself). High fibre diets resulting in bowel obstruction / overload, fever and excruciating pain. (I’ve had this happen to me – it’s not very nice.) Nurses giving out enemas and other bowel flushing treatments to patients, even when said treatments are ‘contra-indicated’, for relatively mild constipation. For example, purgatives or enemas should under no circumstances be administered to patients with any type of heart failure or a range of other life threatening conditions. Yet they are. There are no statistics on this, but anecdotal evidence still filters out. Which proves the axiom; Just because you can’t measure it doesn’t mean it don’t happen.

The whole ‘dietary fat is bad for you’ meme has been found not to be as set in stone as once believed. As for the figures re alcohol and vegetables plucked from thin air – see the ‘Five a day’ and ‘no more than 21 units of alcohol a week’ campaigns. Both of which fail to take into account the variability of the human body. For an amusing take on that subject; Richard Hammond, latterly of Top Gear fame has done a series of videos on in this instance, the ‘Drink two litres of water a day’ and ‘Tap water not as good as bottled’ marketing BS. Today is Sunday; Watch and Smile.

Where all this nonsense comes from is so often to be found in the cut and paste Lamestream world of ‘Science Journalism’ (Cough, cough, sardonic laughter) as promoted in ‘Health and Fitness’ magazines and the Sunday supplements. You know the sort of thing ‘Get your fit bikini body for Summer’ (Then complain about all those ‘sexist’ men ogling their newly ‘fit’ bodies – no pleasing some people) ‘Lose twenty pounds on the new miracle diet’ and find out that yo-yo dieting leaves that wonderful ‘orange peel’ effect skin (Cellulite) on the thighs and bum. Which, oddly enough, you can get rid of with the new ‘miracle’ anti-cellulite cream. Of course, much of this so-called ‘science’ often has more to do with press release content than the originating scientific paper. I’m often left wondering how many researchers in every field of scientific endeavour have read the media output on their study and gone “I never said that!” in incredulous tones, then heaved a heavy sigh and plodded on regardless as the lucrative public speaking invitations materialise.

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2 thoughts on “Really bad junk science”

  1. I began shaking my head as soon as I got to the words ‘Fat Indexes’ at the end of the second paragraph. No doubt the wrong kind of fat index, or however it’s termed, will turn out to be something that fixed by pouring money generously all over the affected area.

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    1. Apparently this ‘measure’ is supposed to tell someone that they have too much of the ‘wrong’ type of body fat in proportion to the rest of them. Allegedly. As for money, I don’t think it is poured over anything, more like extorted directly from the willing victims wallet.

      Direct debit? That’ll do nicely. That’s the ‘fitness industry’ for you.

      Fortunately Youngest and friend are both qualified lawyers who can get refunds at briefcase point without my assistance. I could see by the look in their eyes on the Skype call that they didn’t believe it either.

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