Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Benefits of Breakfast Cereal - a systematic review of the evidence base.

A sane person would expect a research paper with the title "The Benefits of Breakfast Cereal" to be a very short one. Kind of like a paper entitled "Welding shut rubbish bins and the association with reduced terror attacks". 

In either of these papers, a simple "There is none" would suffice. But not when the paper on cereal is funded by 

No, in this case the paper runs for a whopping 38 pages including 7 pages of references. It doesn't take a genius to realise they needed this many to bury the non-evidence for the massive pile of steaming horse shit that is the conclusion:

That first sentence is a classic. You can't help but wonder if the author is taking the piss and laughing his arse off as he wrote it. Maybe he was high. The possibilities are endless.

My disclosure is that I couldn't read it word for word or study the many referenced meta-analyses. I read the abstract, skimmed the rest and at that point I'm pretty sure I'd lost 2 or 3 IQ points. My mind was numb. Yes, that is probably lazy of me, but I make it a policy of mine to not waste the only life I have on stuff that is blatantly insulting my intelligence. 

On pages 22 and 25 there is some amusing tap dancing around the association between breakfast cereals and teeth problems. Apparently it's quite plausible that the milk you add to sugary cereal will offset the hatred that your teeth have toward sugar. Or something like that. 

There is a lot of vagueness in this paper - admittedly the author does admit the lack of evidence of causation between cereals and 'good things' in parts, but that doesn't change the overall tone, which is pretty damn shitty if you're not able to think for yourself and you're relying on this 'scientific study' to guide you in your breakfast routine.

I've chosen some of the more amusing anecdotes for your reading pleasure:

no need for further study. nothing to see here.

Rice Krispies are heart healthy.

RTEC = ready to eat cereal = shitty HbA1c = meh

Sounds like a quote from the Heart Foundation
All good for a laugh, but at this point it shouldn't surprise anyone that the author has been a dietitian for 30+ years, was President of the Dietitian's Association for a couple of years and worked for Kelloggs at one point as Director of Scientific Consumer Affairs - whatever the hell that means. 

But that is not a conflict of interest because he doesn't work there any more. Ha.

I stumbled across this quote from a 2013 Canberra Times news article:
It is true, he certainly is shocking. 

If you're reading this blog post and thinking "but you haven't refuted any of his arguments, where is your evidence that he is wrong?"

And if you are...I'm sorry but I don't care. Use your brain and decide for yourself whether your bowl of Cornflakes is really doing your body any good. 

Sia's "Elasic Heart" isn't about cereal, but the video is a bit surreal: