The New York Times and Your Health

Ahh, The New York Times. I love it for having a lot of great reporting. I hate it for having some wacky judgment from time to time.

Last month The New York Times published a massive, convincing, yet horribly misguided article on the futility of low fat diets. Lots of people took it as permission slip to gorge themselves on burgers, fries, ribs, and chocolate shakes. Dr. Fuhrman offered a comprehensive rebuttal at the time.

His main point was that the study in question proved little, as neither group studied ate a low-fat or healthy diet. (He said it was like studying one group that smoked 50 cigarettes and comparing it to a group that smokes 60 cigarettes a day. If you find they both get sick at about the same rate, does that really prove cutting down smoking doesn't help your health?)

He's not alone in his criticism on the underlying study, which is called the Women's Health Initiative. In today's New York Times Jane E. Brody uses a nearly identical rationale to explain why she's still eating right and exercising:

As I read them, the findings of the Women's Health Initiative on bone disease border on meaningless.
And, as long as you're poring over The New York Times today, keep your eyes open for irony. Eric Nagourney who writes, amazingly, about research showing that health coverage in the news can be dangerously misleading. (More on that study.)

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