How to counter questionable and simplistic messages about health and wellness to stop being afraid of misleading studies

It is difficult to escape a system where we are overloaded with headlines and do not delve deeper into both social networks and the media (we sing). mea culpa, Here are some keys to dealing with false medical claims

Fasting is associated with a 91% mortality rate, making macronutrients like protein responsible for cardiovascular risk or taking only 3,967 steps to be healthy. These are just three examples taken from information published with great fanfare in many media and social networks in recent months. Experts shed light on Potential harms of medical misinformationWhich has become increasingly complex and difficult to identify, as well as misinterpretation of studies.

Everything is changing so quickly and it’s even harder for the average person to filter through. Health warnings that are not supported by science have become widespread across all platforms. new York Times Information published in recent days has warned that similar conspiracy theories This led to vaccine hesitancy during the COVID-19 pandemic, and now confidence in vaccines against other diseases, including measles, is declining as more people lose trust in public health experts and institutions. and moves faster artificial intelligence They have made it even more difficult for people to know what is true and what is false.

Interpretations without solid basis

To this we add the impulse to seek attention in a fast-paced world, both in Instagram and TikTok videos, and the readability a journalist on Discover requires. which has a feedback loop we lose trust Of users/readers.

“All studies should be taken into account, but It is irresponsible not to consider the limitations of each study And, above all, give false headlines, “explains Marcos Vazquez, who popularizes health on a podcast, website and social networks under the name Fitness Revolucionario, who was very critical after the publication of a teletype of the Efe agency issued by the same media. And others, searches on the topic skyrocketed instantly.

According to this expert, to whom we go for his great reputation and rigor, because he is one of the most important health communicators in Spanish, if one day an article is published talking about the benefits of intermittent fasting and Another article is published the next day. “Serious danger,” people will start ignore the rest of health messages.

“Starting from the title, an observational study, no matter how well designed, Causation cannot be inferred, correlation only. That is, we cannot confirm that fasting is the cause of the highest mortality rate. There may even be reverse causation i.e. people Mandatory “Fasting either for medical tests, or for pathology… and fasting for long periods of time was the result of great risk, not the cause,” he warned.

But, in addition, the study has several limitations. “Prima facie this is a preliminary publication, it has not been reviewed. If more problems are found in that review It won’t even actually be published., Besides, did not control other variablesSo we don’t know in what ways the people who fasted were different from the people who didn’t fast.” For example, when it came to cross-referencing data, we didn’t know what habits the people in the study had . “This is based on self-reported data and only twice over several years, so these two samples tell us very little about how they actually ate during the years of follow-up,” Vazquez emphasized.

dangerous approach

“Fasting has shown some benefits controlled clinical trialsThat gives us much more information than observational studies, such as the one limited in this news,” explained the health communicator.

let’s remember this yoshinori ohsumi He won the Nobel Prize in 2016 for his research on autophagy. And it is related to fasting because, during it, The body uses its own energy reserves. “In many cases, shortening the feeding window facilitates calorie control and may also improve glycemic control,” he said. It’s not necessary to do this, nor is it magical., Messages that glorify fasting as if it is a pillar of health can also create confusion. It is an interesting tool that we have available, but it is neither the key to health nor will it harm it (as long as we talk about short fasts of 14-16 hours)”, explains Marcos Vazquez. .

We must be alert to cases in which statements jump to conclusions without evidence or inflame emotions. case of 3,967 steps which provide health benefits, This doesn’t mean we should eliminate the 10,000, but the study says just the opposite: From that minimum amount, the benefits were enormous. Therefore, it is dangerous to tell a sedentary society that the myth of 10,000 steps has been broken. In fact, health professionals emphasize that walking alone is not enough to stay fit.

Regarding the fact that “eating more than 22% protein in the daily diet increases cardiovascular risk”, as stated in one of those alarming headlines, nutritionist Ismael Galancho said in a recent interview with Zen , where he expressed himself about denigrating a macronutrient: “They are accused of being responsible for diseases such as overweight and obesity, diabetes, heart or cancer and so No. These are all problems multicomponent,

observational studies

This is especially true in the field of nutrition, says Juan Bola, nutritionist and technician of physical and sports activities, who is aware of observational studies that show biased statistical coincidence And if you know the scientific method then there is no causation and it can be very easy to manipulate. “They are doing studies with food frequency and habit questionnaires where statistical data is correlated.” They ask questions and follow up, usually through phone calls. “It is really impossible to determine in an objective and quantitative way what a person eats over a period of years or decades. Do you remember what you ate 10 years ago? How many half-cup servings of peanuts per week did you eat last year ?” Gives examples about the model.

That is, people may say that they eat less of ‘X’ because they do not consider it healthy or vice versa, I am going to say that I eat more of ‘X’ because I know it is healthy, Said question. “And of course, most scientists who conduct observational studies expect results that validate their theory, if those results are not what they expected it is as simple as don’t publish this,

In a study published in the journal Journal of the Royal Statistical SocietyIn 2011, the author states strictly: “Any statement that comes observational study This is probably wrong.” For this reason, Bola concluded: “It’s a shame but the scientific evidence is becoming increasingly less rigorous and increasingly the main purpose has become to generate shocking headlines or to favor some industry Is. Observational studies are easily manipulated data that tell us little about true human nutrition. Before believing any headline or video, read the study calmly and bring out your reflective and critical side. endangered skills“He recommends.

good study criteria

At ZEN we ask health and wellness experts to help you recognize when to trust information and when to question information. Our intention, knowing that we are part of this solution, is that readers reflect and be actively involved in the process of filtering what comes to them in the abundance of content.

  1. peer review: “Other experts have evaluated the study before it is published.”
  2. representative and unbiased sample: How many people are we talking about? how long? In the analyzed case of fasting, barely 20,000. Can we impact the entire population? “It’s important to read the study’s methods to understand whether it’s actually well-supported, not to get hung up on the title.”
  3. Study Fund: “It is very suspicious if a study that talks about how beer improves heart health is funded by Anheuser-Busch InBev, a company that produces global brands of beer. Always look at where the money for a study comes from and read the conflict of interest authors,” Bola advises.
  4. Look for high-quality studies with scientific value: “Randomized controlled clinical trials and if they are double blind, the better. In these, two groups are chosen at random and assigned a different version, usually blindly (they do not know depending on which version they have). For example: Group A is given sunflower oil and Group B olive oil for cooking. Everything else about their diet and lifestyle remains unchanged. A well-designed A randomized controlled trial is actually a good study to create dietary guidelines and confirm that certain “foods or nutrients may have ‘X’ effects on the body. The problem with these studies is that they are very expensive, they are long and there is a principle of ethics that underpins them,” Bola explains.
  5. Observe “False Experts”, says Sander van der Linden, professor of social psychology in society at Cambridge, who researches misinformation. These are people making health claims without any medical credentials, or doctors making claims on topics in which they are not experts. “You wouldn’t want to go to an ENT doctor for heart surgery.”
  6. A is also often used in propaganda Polarizing Language: “Bad actors take advantage of intense and extreme emotional reactions, such as fear and anger, ‘us vs. them’ mentality and intimidating people.” Images and videos designed to provoke anxiety, such as crying babies and large needles, are likely to be used. It is better to remain in the dark because almost nothing is completely as good or bad as it seems.

Source link

About Admin

Check Also

SAVALNET – Science and Medicine

Several studies have linked dietary factors such as caffeine, fish and vegetable intake to risk. ... Read more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *