Over at Stats.org, Rebecca Goldin explodes a risible CBS News report that claimed to relay the results of a study on how "even one fatty meal" can turn your heart into a greasy, useless clump.
The study, which examined just 14 people, was designed to measure their bodies' responses to meals high in saturated fat or high in polyunsaturated fat, and compare them.
The small study involved eating two meals spaced a month apart. Three and six hours after the saturated-fat meal, the participants' blood vessels had reduced ability to expand and contract, and there were more inflammatory agents, linked to a buildup of plaque in the arteries. This compared unfavorably to those who had a polyunsaturated meal; for these people, there were elevated levels of HDL, or good cholesterol, six hours after the meal.
The big-time CBS coverage of this implied that the fatty meal would have a "major impact"—sort of like taking the pulse of a guy who's just run 100 meters and determining that running will permanently drive you up to 180 BPM. Which would lead to a nice, fat boom in heart medicine revenues.