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Bad science: The studies we didn’t cover in 2012…

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 21-Dec-2012

If I watch TV and eat crisps, I wonder if I'll get fat...
If I watch TV and eat crisps, I wonder if I'll get fat...

Every day FoodNavigator scans a heap of scientific journals to bring you all the latest research news relevant to your industry – but there’s a lot of dodgy research out there.

Here’s some of the science we protected you from this year.

GM vs. organic corn: What do the squirrels in my backyard prefer?

Scientists may on occasion quibble about appropriate trial conditions, but we’re pretty sure this one wouldn’t get past peer review.

A certified organic dairy farmer in South Dakota decided he didn’t trust safety assessments of genetically modified (GM) maize, so he took matters into his own hands.

In his backyard, he set up a feeder for squirrels with two ears of corn, one GM and one certified organic.

Lo and behold, the squirrels ate the organic corn around about twice as fast as the GM corn, judging by this picture . Coincidence…? No way.

Eating lots of fast food makes you fat

Earlier this year, Washington State University called for participants in a study to discover what happens when people eat 1,000 extra calories from fast food every day. Guess what? They got fat, and developed health problems like joint pain and difficulty breathing and moving.

For their efforts, the participants each were paid $3,500 and were enrolled in a weight loss programme – I wonder if they’ll ever stand the sight of another burger?

Kids who watch lots of TV are fatter than their more active counterparts

You know one thing that doesn’t help weight loss? Watching TV. (Nope, not even watching the Olympics.)

According to a study from the American Association of Pediatrics , kids who watch a lot of television are fatter than those who don’t. This could be down to a number of factors, they said, including displacement of other, more active pursuits; more exposure to food advertising; and snacking while in front of the screen.

But not all screen time is equal.

Researchers from the University of Chester, England, found that children who played active video games – like those in which players jump around or dance – burned more calories than children who played traditional, sedentary games.

You don’t say…

Meanwhile, a study published in Appetite that prompted a similar sentiment, found that people who eat a lot of spicy foods…are more used to hot and spicy foods.

Another study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association , found that people with premarkers for diabetes, like increased abdominal fat and insulin resistance, were more likely to develop type-2 diabetes.

And no matter how often we’re told that it is the most important meal of the day, some of us still skip breakfast. Do so at your peril. Researchers from England’s University of Nottingham found that if you skip breakfast, you might eat more at lunch .

Finally, it’s rare to hear scientists say that no more research is required in a particular area – they’ve got to earn a crust after all – but surely here’s one area where the evidence is pretty conclusive:

Heavy drinking and smoking may lead to cancer earlier in life

In a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, researchers found that those who smoke and drink heavily may develop pancreatic cancer at an earlier age than those who don’t.

So, at a time of year when many of us plan to overindulge, the old advice still stands: Enjoy in moderation. (And throw away those cigarettes.)

Happy holidays to all our readers. We promise we’ll remain vigilant in protecting you from oddball science in 2013 – although we might let you know about it next year.

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