Enjoy Fear Every Sandwich

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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.

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  1. Obviously we need to sue CBS for showing commercials for unhealthy food. It’s their fault America is so fat.

  2. Reminds me of a comment I heard on CNN yesterday in which a CNN reporter reported that a British spokesman had characterized American media reports of a split between American and British counter terrorism approaches as “media hype.” I thought this was hilarious. I anticipate a new category of Breaking News called Media Hype.

  3. Michael Kupperman is a cartoonist we all ought to worship. in one of his strips, a character is the only male student at an otherwise all-girl “Sandwich High” in which all education is related to sandwiches. His physics professor explains that “everything is made of atoms, even your sandwich!” Since the atom bomb involves exploding atoms, he wonders, does this mean my sandwich could explode?
    “It might!” is the professor’s reply. Just thought of that, for some reason.

  4. What if we did a study to determine the effect on the brain of watching even one CBS (insert other channel of choice here) news report?

  5. I was “stumbling” the other day (it’s a Firefox extension with a “stumble” button that takes you to a random website within your preference parameters) and since “health & fitness” was one of my pref params, it took me to some stupid webpage for CSPI (Center for Scamming the Populace Incessantly). It was a list of 10 foods that “you should never, ever eat”. Yes, they were all bad for you. But it never ceases to amaze me how this kind of misinformation continues to circulate, even in the “MSM”. Even the most useless jackleg nutritionist can tell you, without even thinking about it, that your diet is not a matter of individual meals, it’s about the summation of those individual meals,your ntritional makeup over a period of time.

    This idea that one meal is going to change everything is patently and obviously absurd, yet somehow, it still gets play.

  6. What is this I see? Do I detect another Warren Zevon fan?

  7. cbs…only fat old people watch cbs anyway.

  8. Playing to stereotypes:
    One Mexican meal will turn your ass into a perpetual geyser.
    One Chinese meal will condemn you to a life of regularly timed hunger.
    One heavy Italian cold cut late at night will plague you with nightmares forever.

    If you ever eat anything, you can never swim.

  9. I anticipate a new category of Breaking News called Media Hype.

    Don’t you mean, we should just rename “Breaking News” as “Media Hype.”

    I mean, when the photos from Lebanon have more stage management and retouching than an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog, what’s the diff?

  10. The ten food you should never eat are — as you might expect — ten foods that you shouldn’t eat too much.

    I’ll give them the Chicken Selects — take a look at McDonald’s nutrition facts and you’ll see that those things are scary disgusting. Many of the other things are stupid. For example, the frozen dinner has 530 calories. It’s a DINNER people; it’s supposed to contain a lot of calories. I would guess that the average American consumes well over 530 calories at dinner. I burn that in a 40 minute workout. Come on!

  11. From 10 Foods You Should Never Eat:

    A H?agen-Dazs Mint Chip Dazzler (three scoops of ice cream, hot fudge, Oreos, chocolate sprinkles, and whipped cream) has 1,270 calories and 38 grams of saturated fat ? that’s two days’ worth. Think of it as a portable T-bone steak with Caesar salad, and baked potato with sour cream.

    Wow, that sounds like a deal to me! Sign me up.

    Seriously, what really bugs me about this stupid list is that it is arbitrarily singling out specific brand names. Realistically, anything that isn’t raw fruits and vegetables, legumes/grains, and lean meats is probably bad for you. This list should have listed general thinks like “cookies, coffee drinks, fast food…” etc.

    You *know* there are a million dumb, fat Americans who are going to snub Haagen-Dazs after reading this — and walk right into a Baskin Robbins instead. Not that I really care what happens to them.

  12. The “dumb, fat” people need specific examples, Smacky. Because they are so, you know: “dumb.”

  13. ed,

    But specific examples aren’t going to keep the bad food out of people’s mouths. If said people are really interested in their own health, they can’t sit around on their fat, stupid asses waiting for other people to make comprehensive lists of every bad product they should never, ever put in their fat, stupid mouths.

    Side rant: In my day, if you were concerned about weight gain you went to something called a “dietitian”. CSPI (which I presume to be a private, non-governmental organization) has all but replaced professional dietary advice, except they have dumbed it down greatly. To wit: if a doctor tells you that ingesting poision will kill you, and gives you methods detailing how to tell if something will be poisonous to you (like, if the ingredients listed on something include “poison”), then that should be enough information for an average person to make smart decisions and avoid ingesting poison from then on, using their own newly-acquired judgement skills. Conversely, it would not have been very helpful of the doctor to list “10 Poisons You Should Never Consume” because that leaves a lot of other poisons off of the list, you see?

  14. …hunh…?

    (burp)

  15. This reminds me that it’s time for a pastrami sadwich with Swiss cheese and Russian dressing.

  16. Erik:

    You make a Reuben with pastrami? Not corned beef? Interesting. I applaud the non-use of kraut, as I can’t stand it. But I’d rather have brown mustard than the dressing. CSPI must love my hatred of anything mayo-based.

    Pumpernickel is a must.

    Kevin
    (getting peckish)

  17. You *know* there are a million dumb, fat Americans who are going to snub Haagen-Dazs after reading this — and walk right into a Baskin Robbins instead.

    They use those examples because they’re completely absurd.

    I mean, if the example was “an ice cream cone” there’s no way they could have justified the 1270 calorie number.

    But if they say “this specific dessert” which is just an absurdly huge portion, then they can have their big scary numbers.

    I was reading an article about McDonald’s salads a while ago, for example, and the whole article revolved arund the idea that if you picked all the most fattening options (the most fattening salad, no low-fat dressing, fried instead of grilled chicken), the salad had a lot of fat.

  18. Looks like it’s time for another BK stacker.

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