This could just as well be the worst things about the local news. You know, that 30-second segment that starts, “Have you ever eaten rice? Well, a new study says that your life is in danger.”
Studies are awful. Parents are already stressed enough, what are we supposed to do when opposing research gets thrown into the mix?
For instance, you put the word “soy” on any label, and my initial reaction is that this probably has some health value. But not if you read this! Here’s a highlight, regarding soy, from this author, citing research:
And while these foods may send us to an early grave, where we really should be looking is the cradle.
Got it, so soy is ba—wait a minute! A study, from the American College of Sports Medicine, says otherwise?!?!
In addition, soy protein consumption may provide additional health benefits including a reduced risk of coronary heart disease when combined with a healthy diet. Recent studies also demonstrate that soy protein consumption may reduce the risk of certain kinds of cancer including prostate cancer.
Some of this stuff reads like the reviews on Yelp, where a string of people bash a restaurant, then a PR flack or employee of the bashed restaurant writes a glowing review out of nowhere. Plus, with kids and nutrition, there are so many lobbies and pharmaceutical companies involved, it’s impossible to figure out who’s telling the truth and who’s just trying to sell us something.
For months after my daughter was born, it was regularly drilled into my brain that she must wear hats and gobs of sunscreen. I’m not sure what would even happen if she got sunburned, but based on the hysteria, I assume her skin would look like a gremlin’s.
Then I read this recently. The article, discussing the lack of vitamin D in humans these days, cites a study that makes a link between pasty kids and autism:
Many researchers now fear that the explosive increase in autism is a result of pregnant mothers having close to no vitamin D in their bodies and then young babies and infants being similarly shielded from the Sun. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that virtually no infants are getting enough vitamin D. The inadequacy figures, even using the CDC’s pre-2011 lower recommendations of what they thought the body should have, was that 90 percent of infants are deficient.
According to Cannell, the highest autism rates occur in areas that have the most clouds and rain, and hence the lowest blood levels of vitamin D. A Swedish study has strongly linked sunlight deprivation with autism. Moreover, blacks, whose vitamin D levels are half those found in whites living at the same latitudes, have twice the autism rates. Conversely, autism is virtually unknown in places such as sunny Somalia, where most people still spend most of their time outdoors. Yet another piece of anecdotal evidence is that autism is one of the very few afflictions that occur at higher rates among the wealthier and more educated – exactly the people most likely to be diligent about sunscreen and more inclined to keep their children indoors.
Come on, science. I’d rather not be in the middle of an intellectual pissing contest. It also seems like children’s research has taken on a polarizing political tone. It can’t be, “Soy is pretty good, but not the best protein to give your kids.“ It has to be, “Your child is sitting on a tofu deathbed.”
Well, my research shows that studies are frequently misleading and sensationalized, often skewing data in order to generate medical headlines or make a splash for researchers looking to lock up grant funding for future projects.