There's a vast difference between not having intellectual curiosity and not wanting to deal with cranks. Dr. Johnston is not challenging any data. He's simply treated the data to a different type of analysis previously deemed inappropriate for dietary studies and lo and behold, has achieved a different result. Unless Dr. Johnston can show this analysis better describes observed effects, which he has not even attempted to do, then there's no reason to give any of this research a second look.
> “It is important to recognize that this group reviewed the evidence and found the same risk from red and processed meat as have other experts,” she said in a statement. “So they’re not saying meat is less risky; they’re saying the risk that everyone agrees on is acceptable for individuals.
They are definitely saying meat is less risky.
What mostly stood out to me: the study did not even try to discredit the hard and overwhelming evidence that consuming red meat regularly does give you a single-digit percent incrase of various types of cancers. They then proceeded to give a summary that says that there is no point in worrying over such small percentage likelihood increases, basically (I am obviously paraphrasing here, so)
After that, we concluded with the coworker that yeah, this was not a holy grail counter to "mainstream science", just one slightly fishy one.
But this does not diminish my trust in the scientific method. This just adds one more example to the book 'why you should always try to at least verify/clarify claims before blindly believing them'.
At a 5% significance level, the hazard ratios posted there are clearly not significant. Most of them are reasonably close to 1.0 - so there is basically no difference in mortality between the control & treatment arm. Sample size is very large, n=48000.
The data he used is public & verifiable, so am not sure what digging into this person's private life has to do. Whether he is funded by meat industry or eats beef himself is as relevant as the color of his underwear.
In the study, he says "issues of animal welfare and potential environmental impact... is outside the scope. Related to this, we took an individual rather than a societal perspective."
Taking an individual perspective is imo the right thing to do. He further explicitly says if you are concerned about global warming etc. this study isn't about that. So he's being blunt & honest.
Those who are batting for the other team, like the opposing researchers & NYT etc. are questioning not the stats or the methodology but the fact that if you make public policy based on this, it will undoubtedly be bad for the environment. Which it will. But that's not the point of the study now, is it ? The researcher himself says it is not the point.
First, it's a matter of principle.
Second, there are 1000 ways to slice and dice and present findings the way you want, even if the data are "public & verifiable".
Heck, you can spin things even if the processing you did is reproducible and freely available (e.g. as a script) AND the results are against your bias -- in the wording and tone of your paper.
What is ironical, is that this new study DID conclude that there was a link between chronic diseases and consumption of red meat, just like the others before it, it was mostly dog bit men news. But of course, mainstream media didn't read it.
They only read the incredible conclusion, that said that its was not worth for meat eaters to stop eating meat to improve their health, since they like it so much!
One of the authors of one of the studies came out and said that this was the most outrageous abuse of data that he ever saw.
Neal Barnard from the Physicians Committee for responsible medicine pretty much sums it up in this video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYPYH93nVg8
Fallacious arguments abound for the carnivore group all the way over to the militant vegans who would want to tax or outlaw meat eating altogether, while telling us to shut up and eat our processed patty of canola oil and isolated pea protein. For now, I’ll keep eating like my grandparents ate - you know, real food.
This is a straw man argument, because the perfect experiment will never be conducted. You would have to take 5000 people, put them in an island and feed them plant foods their whole life, collect blood and urine sample periodically to monitor them, wait for them to die and autopsy them.
Like we are doing with chimps currently literally. And we would need a control group. So because we can't conduct this perfect experiment, nothing in nutrition science has validity.
This is nonesense, its about gluing the pieces together. There are studies that show that certain populations are healthier than others, and we know what they eat.
There are studies that track population movement across the globe and their changes in health. Africans and Asians moving to the US and developing heart diesase and diabetes, when before they had none.
There are also studies that identify the mechanisms, we know certain molecules produced from the result of digesting meat that are carcinogenic.
So its the population studies, the observational studies, the studies of the action mechanisms all together that form a complete picture.
Going by the top 5 countries: wealth, high-quality healthcare, healthcare focusing on preventative care, strong personal safety and sense of wellbeing, strong community, siesta, favour walking and biking, reduce stress and improve mental wellbeing.
If I recall the findings of one of the longest study ever done on human health, if you want to live long be born with few stressers, genes that is correlated to low stress, and have good access to stress management, regularly exercise the hearth and genuine enjoy it. Don't drink and don't smoke, through they could also be correlating to a lack of access to better strategy for stress management.
We could ask what the diets of Japan, Spain, Singapore, Switzerland, and South Korea has in common, as those are the top 5 countries with longest life expectancy, but it seems much more relevant to look at stress factors and stress management. Cancer rate and cancer recovery in particular is very interesting subject matter in this context.
Diabetes is an interesting side note, in particular to the finding from studies looking at children born around the dutch hunger winter. It doesn't say anything about meat but a lot about how diabetes in part occur when there is a mismatch between how easily it is to access nutrients in the environment and how easy body is expecting it to be. A simplified version is that in one extreme you starve and in the other extreme you get diabetes. A diet that tries to avoid diabetes would be one that tries to match what the individual body expects.
By reversing, I mean stopping and reversing the progression of symptoms, not cure every single person completely with it.
This means clogged arteries (with cholesterol, not calcified arteries) start to open up, and diabetics reduce or get off their insulin completely in well-documented cases.
For diabetes: https://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/content/18/2/121 and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1425110
Stress has a major effects on metabolic activity, weight gains, effects hormones and is generally a problem in managing glucose levels. Stress management a key part of diabetics health plan.
In general there is few things as deadly to a human as chronic stress and that is what a lot of studies in longevity shows.
I mean put people on Yoga classes and don't change their diet and see what happens.
While sugar consumption is markedly higher in the US, I do believe that a good portion of the health outcomes can be explained by the total unwalkability of most of the US. If walking is part of the regular routine, you don’t need an app to hit 10,000 steps per day. But most Americans only walk the distance from the parking space to the front door on a daily basis.
One day we will have fully automated cars that will just drop us off right at the door
One little problem with that is that your grandparents probably didn't eat what my grandparents ate. I'm guessing you're from a majority English-speaking country, the US, or UK, etc. I'm Greek. Our traditional cuisine is choke-full of strictly vegan dishes that are absolute staples . Only of course no Greek would dream of calling those dishes "vegan". They are simply "food". And, I dare say, they are "real" food, the kind of food that grandma would make, as opposed to the stuff one can find in fast food joints etc.
The same goes for the "300,000 years of human evolution eating meat". Considering how far and wide humans have ranged during our evolution, figuring out what an average human ate would be very tricky. On the one hand, you have the diets of the peoples of the Arctic who eat predominantly meat from seals and caribou and the like. On the other hand, you have the diets of people in the Indian subcontinent who eat mostly pulses.
The bottom line is we've always been omnivores and we cant eat only meat any more than we can eat only plants. And we can't look at the plates of a few million people who have settled down in one part of the world and ignore the rest, who live all over the rest of the planet.
 Rather than me giving a list of Greek cuisine dishes with no meat or animal fasts etc in them, here's a blog post by a vegan touring Greek:
The list includes spanakopita and xoriatiki (Greek salad) that are normally prepared or served with feta cheese as are many of the other dishes. Greek cuisine is not vegan, but a lot of it is lacto- ovo- pescaterian.
Note again that the dishes in the list above are staples- the kind of dish the average Greek would eat a few times a year.
I recently dug out some original USDA documents from the 19th century to research the origins of nutritional science in the US. W. O. Atwater, the guy who introduced things like Calories (equal to kcal), macros, and "dietetics" has had a huge impact on nutritional science, including modern food labelling and things like the simplified conversion of fat to 9 Calories/gram and protein/carbs to 4 Calories/gram.
Atwater himself was very much influenced to introduce these to the American public by his German professors (he did a postdoc there), who were themselves looking into making nutrition "efficient - for cattle and humans alike.
I found the history quite fascinating, it gets to the "origins" of the idea of quantifying food.
>The prevalence of obesity was 39.8% and affected about 93.3 million of US adults in 2015~2016.
For an extreme example--it's a lot easier to gain weight if you regularly stop by the convience store and pick up cookies, chips and a bottle of coke for dinner than if you cook lean chicken and roast vegetables.
Sure you could eat a similar calorie portion of both.
As for eating out, fast food is bad, but fast casual is worse. All you can eat shrimp at Red Lobster, the pasta cabonara with chicken at Cheesecake Factory (~2300 calories) and your personal pie at the pizza place put on more weight than convenience store snacks. Plus a few beers or glasses of wine, a margarita or two -- pretty soon it adds up.
I'm not sure I see the point here?
>Ready to eat frozen meals tend to be high calorie as well.
They can be, but I wouldn't say they tend to be high calorie. Most of the cheaper frozen dinners tend to be somewhere around 500 calories. Only the larger, more expensive, higher calorie dinners tend to get near 1,000 calories.
>As for eating out, fast food is bad, but fast casual is worse.
Fast casual doesn't mean Red Lobster or The Cheesecake Factory. Chipotle, and Panera Bread are examples of fast casual restaurants.
All you can eat shrimp at Red Lobster, the pasta cabonara with chicken at Cheesecake Factory (~2300 calories) and your personal pie at the pizza place put on more weight than convenience store snacks. Plus a few beers or glasses of wine, a margarita or two -- pretty soon it adds up.
For all but the pizza place your getting close to $100 meals there. The number of people who are eating like that regularly enough for that to be the primary cause of them being overweight is relatively small. And when you consider that obesity is negatively correlated with income, I don't think those restaurants are having a huge impact here.
As for a personal pan pizza. A pepperoni personal pan pizza at Pizza hut is only ~600 calories, that's less than a burger and fries at pretty much any fast food restaurant.
It sounds to me like just more bullshit food nostalgia nonsense and you’re just perpetuating your own brand of unscientific nutrition opinion. Researching that a bunch of other hypotheses are wrong or partially wrong doesn’t mean your idea is right.
“Eating like my grandparents ate” for a lot of people in the US means a wildly lopsided diet of mostly meat and a slew of convenience foods foisted on consumers during the advent of mega supply chain processed foods. “Eating like my great grandparents ate” usually means “eat whatever you can and don’t complain” with no serious regard for nutrition or balance.
There are likely confounding effects in rate of disease, obesity, early death etc. due much more to lifestyle differences, general sources of pollution, sedentary habits, prevalence of jobs requiring hard physical work (where even the same job in the same company today is likely partly automated or handled differently to reduce physical labor), lack of good medical screening or testing in past generations obfuscating knowing true rates of disease or health problems due to diet back then, different structures for ensuring screening in schools, etc. The sheer volume of confounding effects that would have to be convincingly controlled for to compare causal impact of past generations’ diets is staggering. If we can’t even get good science on simple studies across cohorts today, it seems like a ludicrous stretch to claim universal positive causal effect from eating “like my grandparents ate.”
The tone of your last paragraph also makes it sound like you would not give credence to ideas of choosing food options that reduce water depletion or CO2 emissions, or even the philosophy of just animal welfare and cruelty in even small-time farming (not saying we know with great certainty what those choices or green impacts would be, only that you seem to have made up your mind that some Norman Rockwell Americana picture of green beans and chicken on the table represents The Right Choice).
If you don’t actually feel that way, you may want to consider writing more charitably and not invoking food nostalgia as the alternative to flawed modern nutrition science.
Those who want to drive food guidelines by other factors than actual health, should be honest about their motivations, whatever they are, rather than claiming that they are scientifically/health driven. Arguments for animal welfare, water use etc need to be backed by good science as well, not just platitudes. I’ve had people try to make the argument to me that all the water falling on all the pasture land in the US needs to be ‘counted against’ meat. That because we treat some animals poorly, we should stop eating all of them, rather than asking why we treat them that way, or how other countries might be doing it better. I’ve yet to see a good study on the millions/billions(?) of small animals that are killed in millions of acres of U.S. monocrops, but I’m guessing it would be eye opening. For every warning statement on animal CO2 use, I can find a seemingly well done study on positive CO2 capture by regenerative farms (i.e. traditional farms before feed lots). Carnivores on Twitter seem to have had amazing individual successes getting rid of their own specific inflammatory diseases, but then often assume that experience can be extrapolated to everyone, and often discount the long-term health impact of zeroing out plants completely…. It goes on and on.
Lastly, my statement about eating like my grandparents used the words “I” and “my” and was obviously my own rule - hard to imagine what you found ‘uncharitable’ about that statement. I’m somewhat new to HN - are we not allowed to share our own experiences here?
That is exactly the goal here. To confuse the public, discredit scientists so that people just throw their hands in the air and just eat whatever they want and are used to.
For example, the tobacco industry had this famous memo that said "Doubt is our business". For 40 years, they never had to prove that smoking caused cancer. No, all they had to do was to create doubt due to contradictory studies, and the public would be confused and just keep smoking.
That is the goal with these studies and headlines, it's to confuse the public. The study they made actually said that there is a link between eating meat and a series of diseases.
It was the incredibly unscientific conclusion that its not worth to stop eating meat to avoid disease since people like it so much that caused the headlines, not the actual science of the studies.
Climate change, human health and animal welfare are all 3 huge reasons to not eat so much meat, the science is clear.
It looks like you are actively looking for data that makes you feel good about your habits and suspending critical thinking. The amount of evidence for the negative impact of the animal industry on the environment is staggering.
I am not the writer of that comment, but yes I don’t give credence to choosing food choices based on water consumption. Water is a renewable resources water “shortages” aren’t a problem with actual water supply, but distribution of water. The Pacific Northwest is really wet, the Mojave is really dry. One could claim a dire shortage of water in the Mojave, which would be true, but that isn’t indicative of actually running out of water.
As far as fearing CO2 output from food; that’s just religious jibber-jabber for the doomsday cult du jour. The world isn’t ending.
Observational studies on diets or food intake are useless to draw conclusions that are then plastered all over Daily Mail and so on: people actually read this shit seriously.and it affects people's lives. All based on shoddy, PR-centric "science". I would actually want to see something like "dietfraudwatch" that shames these researchers who don't have high standards to begin with.
I think this is enough for me to disregard that individual and anything he says about nutrition. If you want to eat processed meat go ahead and eat it. You can convince yourself it's healthy too. You can convince yourself sugar is healthy.
That seems like... a poor way to do science.
Personally (I'm a PhD scientist in biology) I think a lot of the claims about sugar aren't actually supported by the evidence and are in fact just driven by super-egotist scientists who want peoeple to believe what they believe (lookin' at you, Lustig).
People believe whatever they want to believe and find a 'paper' or 'stat' to back it up.
In the end, a person should weigh out all the costs of a meat-heavy diet and consider the all the benefits of a plant-heavy diet. It's not even a debate for me.
I still allow myself to try unique food when I travel to fully experience a culture. I don't overdo it though, my body just feels different when I eat meat after getting used to life without it.
> When Dr. Johnston and his colleagues first published the sugar study, they said that ILSI had no direct role in conducting the research other than providing funding, but later amended their disclosure statement in the Annals after The Associated Press obtained emails showing that ILSI had “reviewed” and “approved” the study’s protocol.
There is often a huge lag between funding, submission for publication and final publication. His interpretation of the rules would be widely agreed upon as reasonable.
Also, your "huge lag" point is a strong argument in favor of disclosing. That suggests funding relationships have a more lasting effect.
From there, you can say that his analysis is merely word-play.
"18% increase in likelihood for a 6% rate is only 1 more person per hundred on a population scale. Therefore it is only a 1% increase on the population level" is basically all he is saying.
It is fundamentally non-analysis imo: basic arithmetic meant to reframe reality in a way convenient for a desired headline.
That is purposefully obfuscating the relevant data.
Unless you believe the primary function of this research is to inform policy decisions which have little to no effect, and not consumers, who have a very direct effect?
And what you offer me to discuss in response is that your position in your particular example is certainly right.
People see 50% increase in risk and don't have enough information to make an informed choice. If you tell them that we go from 2 people in a thousand suffering ill effects to 3 people in a thousand they can make their choice.
See the work of Gerd Gigerenzer for plenty of examples of people caused harm because they were told only the relative risk.
For instance, if half of the population became vegetarians, the rate of colorectal cancer would go down, and red meat would become even more "safe."
They're saying if you have a population of 1,000 people who don't eat red meat you'd expect to see 2 cases of DISEASE_X. If you take a similar population but who do eat red meat you'd expect to see 3 cases of DISEASE_X.
That's a 50% increase, but that 50% relative risk number isn't enough information for people to make any decision. Here we're talking about an extra 1 person in 1000 people. But if the numbers were 4 in 10 increasing to 6 in 10 that's still only a 50% increase.
We need the absolute risk numbers to get an understanding: 0.2% increases to 0.3%. Something that's unlikely to happen becomes marginally more likely to happen.
This is not some weird obscure trickery. It's an important thing for people receiving healthcare to understand. It's mainstream science.
Have a look at the factbox and the icon array linked in this page: https://www.harding-center.mpg.de/en/fact-boxes/early-detect...
But also, we should avoid using percentages and we should use natural frequencies.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3310025/ Only about 1 in 4 people understand that 0.1% means 1 in 1000.
Personally, if something will make a low occurence event marginally safer, I might not care. That's what this paper is saying.
Perhaps a scientific paper isn't the place for that (an article about the paper probably is) but that translated data is still relevant to a certain perspective.
There is a large body of writing about P-hacking, bias in studies, this is just one more in that long, long list.
Fill in the blanks for many industry studies.