As a thought experiment, imagine a person from the unhealthiest group, those who consume large amounts of red meat -- bacon, cold cuts, hamburgers, steaks, hot dogs and other beef products
. Is your mental image complete? If so, a few predictions:
If you are male, the person you imagined is male. If you are female, he is probably still male but I am less sure. If she is female, kindly imagine someone male to proceed.
He is probably overweight, dressed in work clothes and worn shoes. He is very likely wearing a hat with a logo on it for a sports team, a car or tractor manufacturer, or a food product. He doesn't make a lot of money and much of what he does make goes to gas for his pickup truck and possibly more for cigarettes. He probably doesn't belong to a gym but if he does he spends a lot of time with the free weights and is a stranger to the Stairmaster.
How did I do?
It doesn't matter. I was just waving a strawman to get you to firm up the person you were imagining. Now take a look at that imaginary person. How many of the attributes that you have imagined for him could also correlate with overall mortality? How many of them can be confounders in an observational study? I realize that the authors of the various "red meat is bad for you" studies claim to have allowed for other variables but how many things on your mental checklist for your typical red-meat-eater can they control for?
Some things to think about
, if you like.
And finally, since my weekend honey-do list looms over me and I can't spend all day on the computer, a link to some thoughts from my favorite heretical dietary science writer: garytaubes.com/2012/03/science-pseudoscience-nutritional-epidemiology-and-meat/fixed typo
Post Edited (PeterDisAbelard) : 10/20/2012 2:20:16 PM (GMT-6)