Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Don't Believe People Who Profit From Lying (Or: Are Oats That Great?)

Ever eat that round cereal with a hole in the middle? Made of oats?

They've started trumpeting a 1998 study entitled "Cholesterol-lowering benefits of a whole grain oat ready-to-eat cereal". This study bases its conclusions entirely on this table, which is all about cornflakes vs. oaty cereal:

Oats and cholesterol

Now, with the help of this handy tool, I've calculated all the P-values:
Cornflakes before vs. after, 0.35; Oats b/a: 0.15; Cornflakes before/ oats before: 0.61; Cornflakes after/ oats after: 0.07. So there are no significant differences in this study, even for before and after oat consumption. Cheery oat cereals may reduce your cholesterol 4%- and that's only LDL, not total, but this study shows no statistical significance.

There are plenty of other studies showing that 5+ grams of oat fiber, or other soluble fibers, a day can help lower cholesterol. Which is all very well and good. My point is merely, this study does NOT demonstrate this effect. Nonsignificant differences might as well not exist. Don't believe everything you read!

So... all the same, eating more fruits and veggies and whole grains is good for your health. Who knew? (And if someone could convince my FIL, who has gout- gout! GOUT! - to stop eating meat at every meal, that'd be great too. I'm afraid he's going to meet his reward before he has grandkids.)