This Friday it once again became clear how far I'm removed from the cutting edge of science. That is, if the cutting edge is a crapfest in experimental design.More Fun With ScienceWhen scientists, I mean, real and supposedly serious scientists flat-out proclaim that "chocolate is not fattening," it makes everyone's ears prick up.When they even go as far as saying that consumption of chocolate is independent of physical activity and diet, then that's like proclaiming Newton was wrong and you got the floating apple to show it.But let's start at the beginning. Scientists from the University of Granada took a bunch of teens and, in their own words, did the following:
This study comprised 1458 adolescents (ages 12.5–17.5 y) participating in HELENA-CSS (Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence Cross-Sectional Study). Dietary intake was self-registered using a computer-based tool for 24-h dietary recall on 2 non-consecutive days. Weight and height were measured, and BMI was calculated. Adiposity was estimated using skinfolds (Slaughter’s equation) and bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA). Waist circumference was measured.Ok, you have 1,458 participants, measure their bodies and then ask them what they ate a day before via a computer program. To say you got meaningful data out of this you need to assume:
- the teens answered truthfully
- they remembered everything they ate
- what they ate on those two days is representative of their diets
Scientists at the University of Granada have disproved the old idea that chocolate is fattening, in a study reported this week in Nutrition. Higher chocolate consumption associated with lower levels of total fat—fat deposits all over the body—and central—abdominal—fat, independently of whether or not subjects are physically active, and of their diet.As for the how they suppose that happens, they don't really have any idea beyond mumbling a bit about "catechins."It Proves NothingCould there be a connection? Yes, but proving it requires doing some research where what participants eat is fully controlled. All the studies mentioning a "chocolate lovers are thinner" connection so far, including this one, viciously suffer from self-reporting the scientists have no control over.But those previous papers at least acknowledged their limitations and didn't go out and call their crap research on the subject "the largest and best-controlled study to date."Picture courtesy of "everjean".