Tag Archives: Superfoods

Cake makes you lose weight !!

30 Apr

Weird diet stories often appear in the press, and serve as a really nice way for students to deploy their rational thinking skills. This particular example from the Daily Telegraph in Feb 2012 suggests that eating chocolate cake makes you lose weight.

The reported study involves two groups, both of a calorie-limited low-carbohydrate diet, where the difference between the two groups was that one ate a 300 calorie breakfast whereas the other ate a 600 calories breakfast including the chocolate cake. The cake group lost substantially more weight that the non-cake group, even though they consumed the same number of calories in total.

Students will have undoubtedly heard the advice that eating a large breakfast means you are less hungry throughout the day, but the story treats this as being some kind of amazing scientific revelation !

It’s worth asking  students to Google this story, to see just how far such ‘news’ spreads. The story originals from the Tele Aviv University in Israel, but I’ve found it being reported in India, the USA, Australia and New Zealand as well as the UK. What’s really intriguing is that nowhere in any of these stories does the idea of a group eating a 600 calorie breakfast with cake versus a group eating a 600 calorie breakfast without cake would be an actual test of the ‘cake’ hypothesis

Superfoods – Is it just correlational data ?

28 Apr

Students will probably have already come across the idea of ‘superfoods’, so this article should be easily accessible.

This Daily Mail article reports a study from a large US cohort study that suggests that eating strawberries and blueberries can stave off cognitive decline on later life. What’s of particular interest is that if the students read to the end of the Mail’s article they discover the idea that other ‘lifestyle’ variables, for example ‘exercise’, might explain the correlation between the fruit consumption and slowing of the rate of cognitive decline. Students should be able to readily recognise that people who eat more fruit might also exercise more. It seems quite bizarre that a newspaper that would publish a single article where the end of the article seems to contradict beginning of it.

This seems like a nice way to talk about correlation and causation and also a good example that just by reading all the way through newspaper articles it’s possible to spot the problems with them !

%d bloggers like this: