A celebration (and mocking) of ridiculously useless research

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

And They Love Those Fruit-Flavored LifeSavers Most of All!

Today's Duh!scovery comes to us from the Applied Social Sciences department of Cornell University. According to the Associated Press:

Cookie lovers seem more likely to eat apples and other fruits than salty snacks, suggests a new study.

Fancy that - people who like sweets like sweet food! Even if it comes in the unappealing form of fresh fruit.

If true, that finding might be useful in encouraging healthier eating, according to the lead author of the study.

true? Isn't that why you had the study in the first place? Oh wait, there's that weasel word "suggests" again. Another Duh!scovery maxim - every study that "suggests" a result is really suggesting another research grant.

A group led by Cornell University marketing professor Brian Wansink looked at the eating habits of thousands of people and concluded the craving for something sweet spans both candy and fruit.

Hmm... a social sciences study led by a marketing professor? We smell trouble here. And look! So does the AP!

Dr. Beverly Tepper, a professor of food science at Rutgers University who does taste research, criticized the study's execution.

She said it was difficult to interpret the results since the study was vague in defining terms like "fruit lovers" or what specific salty and sweet snacks were considered. She questioned how meaningful the statistical difference was that researchers used to conclude there was a higher connection between eating sweets and fruits compared to salty snacks and fruits.

"I think it's an interesting idea," she said. "But I don't think this is the ideal approach to get at the question."

A Duh!scovery with suspect methodology? Say it ain't so!

Once again, we find ourselves looking at a study that attempts to "scientifically" validate common sense, for the higher purpose of getting people to do something they obviously don't want to do.

By better understanding how various foods, such as sweets, are linked by preference, strategies used to market such sweet snacks as candy bars, for example, could be incorporated into an educational program to increase the consumption of fruit.

The issue isn't that people who like sweets are unaware of fruit's sweet yummyness - they eat more fruit already - they simply prefer the sweet, sweet hit of pure sugar lovingly packed into candy and cookies. Compared to the mainline rush of these sucrose delivery vehicles, fruit is but a pale imitation.

We have to leave now - we're having a hard time resisting the allure of those deep-fried Snickers...


At July 28, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me guess, they're going to propose a study to see the relationship between the cookie/candy crowd and their weight :)

At July 29, 2006, Blogger Brian Erst said...

No, they leave that to the hundreds of new diet books that come out each year. There's more money there...


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