Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Just something I noticed

I find it interesting that fruits and vegetables are widely used in advertising, as they symbolize "healthy". Just now, at the Journal of Nutrition website, there's two pomegranates, two acorn squash, four tangerines, and a bunch of red grapes. At the CalTrain station in downtown San Fran, there's a place to buy Subway sandwiches, the lower counter of which is covered with a banner full of peppers, tomatoes, heads of lettuce, etc.

Of course, fruits and veg are bright and shiny and colorful and highly photogenic. You never see a pile of wheatberries, or a big pyramid of flour or cane sugar, or a bowl full of corn syrup.

I think someone should do a photo shoot reflecting the raw materials in an average American's daily diet. There's something vaguely resembling an interesting infographic contained in a blog here, but I can't trace it back to the origin. And what's all that dairy doing there, in a population that allegedly doesn't drink milk anymore? I think, also, that the chart should be corrected for water content, as a pound of lettuce has a lot fewer calories (less than 100) than a pound of sugar (almost 2000).

I'm just ranting today, especially since I've been reading a lot of dietary studies, and am highly skeptical of many of them. Too small a population, too short a time, too much averaging. While you don't want to look at individual data points necessarily, they can indicate interesting things. For example, on a study of mice who had access to different % fat diets, there were individual mice on a 6% fat diet who had a body composition of 25% fat, while there were individuals on a 75% fat diet who had a body composition of 10% fat. Scroll through a bit. So while you can make general, sweeping conclusions, it's still important to check out the raw data. After all, I'm an individual, not an average.

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