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Nutrition Science’s Most Preposterous Result

  • Nutrition Science’s Most Preposterous Result

    This is hilarious: “Back in 2018, a Harvard doctoral student … was presenting his research on the relationship between dairy foods and chronic disease to his thesis committee. One of his studies had led him to an unusual conclusion: Among diabetics, eating half a cup of ice cream a day was associated with a lower risk of heart problems.” Of course, suggesting that a dessert loaded with sugar and saturated fat might be good for you was anathema. This paper wasn’t the first to uncover the awkward fact — there had been decades of research attempting to p-hack around it, but with a lack of success:

    The Harvard researchers didn’t like the ice-cream finding: It seemed wrong. But the same paper had given them another result that they liked much better. The team was going all in on yogurt. With a growing reputation as a boon for microbiomes, yogurt was the anti-ice-cream—the healthy person’s dairy treat. “Higher intake of yogurt is associated with a reduced risk” of type 2 diabetes, “whereas other dairy foods and consumption of total dairy are not,” the 2014 paper said. “The conclusions weren’t exactly accurately written,” acknowledged Dariush Mozaffarian, the dean of policy at Tufts’s nutrition school and a co-author of the paper, when he revisited the data with me in an interview. “Saying no foods were associated—ice cream was associated.”

    (tags: p-hacking research ice-cream diabetes health fat sugar diet nutrition)

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