Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Reasons Behind Conflicting Health Reports

You've no doubt experience watching or reading a news report about the health benefit of something that completely contradicts a previous report. One day chocolate is bad, the next it's good for your heart. One day taking Vitamin E will help prevent heart disease, next day it may actually accelerate it. So why are there so many contradictory studies regarding fitness and health?

This is a complicated question that requires a multilayer response. It includes everything from sensationalist reporting, to special interest influence, to incomplete studies, and more. But first we have to first acknowledge that the effects of a particular food or supplement to an individual's health and fitness is incredibly hard to study as there are so many variables included.

If I was studying the effectiveness of supplement "X" in increasing muscle strength I may give Group A the supplement and group B a placebo (sugar pill). If 2 months later I find that on average the group taking supplement X gain 25% more strength than the group taking the placebo it may seem logical to conclude that supplement X do indeed increase strength. But logic and science doesn't always coincide. There area a myriad of factors that may have contributed to this result and it may purely be anecdotal, or coincidence.

It may have just happen to be that the people from group A had better sleeping patterns than B, or that they had less stress in their lives, or even that they believed in the supplement more than B. All of those factors do indeed impact your strength level. This is just 3 examples, multiply that with the thousands of components to strength building and you can see how complicated studying it can be.

Now researchers are well aware of this and that is why they have a peer reviewed system before any new studies are regarded as conclusive. Once a new study is done it is meticulously scrutinized and reviewed by fellow researchers to discover any flaws, like not accounting for the sleep pattern of Group A in relations to Group B in our example. Only then can that study be included in its applicable medical or fitness journal for even further examination before its deemed conclusive by a major health organization like American Heart Association or American College of Sports and Medicine. This aforementioned process can take years before a conclusion is reached. This is where the media plays a part.

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