Another Reason To Look Closer At Nutrition Studies

Brian Wansink, a prominent researcher and the head of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, announced last week that he would retire from the university at the end of the academic year. Less than 48 hours earlier, JAMA, a journal published by the American Medical Association, had retracted six of Wansink’s studies.

The gold standard of scientific studies is to make a single hypothesis, gather data to test it, and analyze the results to see if it holds up. By Wansink’s own admission that’s not what happened in his lab.

He is “guilty” of p-hacking. P-hacking is when researchers play with data to arrive at results that look like they’re scientifically significant. For instance, they can cherry pick data points, re-analyze the date in multiple ways or stop an experiment early.

Wansink encouraged his students to dig through the numbers to find results that would “go virally big time.”

P-hacking is fairly common in health research, and especially in studies involving food. It is one reason contradictory nutrition headlines seem to be the norm. Unfortunately, it is not specific to one lab at one university. And it may because there is a rush to publish; the race for the next attention-grabbing conclusion.

Therefore, don’t let the latest nutrition news “grab you”, without giving it the “sniff test.”

(ref: buzzfeed; npr; nytimes)

Recipe of the Week:

Another recipe from Ina Garten’s Cook Like a Pro cookbook: Crispy Mustard Chicken and Frisée. Tender mustard chicken with a crunchy panko crust, roasted fingerling potatoes, and a cold, crisp frisée salad with plenty of mustardy vinaigrette – YUM!!

Quote of the Week:

“Self-care can start right here in this moment. It can be free and it doesn’t have to have props. It’s about doing less, taking a walk outside, and listening to music that you like.”

Ellen Vora

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