By JR on Thursday, June 30, 2016
Are spuds bad for you?
Medical researchers would love to point the skinger of forn at the humble spud. It would be another arrow in the heart of those despised McDonald's "fries". And the latest study by Borgi et al. did indeed find a slight bad effect from eating them -- but only among women.
Lea Borgi. Isn't she gorgeous? But don't fancy her too much. She is engaged to another woman
I was going to have a shot at the Borgi study but a Kiwi researcher has beaten me too it. David R Thomas, another old timer from a social science background like me, has pointed out that men and women tend to have different diets and the fact that men were immune from the menaces of the good ol' spud should suggest that it was something other than spuds in the female diet that had the bad effect. And he offers a specific suggestion about what the pattern difference might be. And he has a point.
But I have another shot to fire into the body of the unfortunate Dr Borgi. She did an heroic job of adjusting for all sorts of possible confounding factors but she left out the politically incorrect one, one that sabotages a lot of medical research. She failed to look at differences according to social class. And, horrific though it might be for me to mention it, social class does influence diet.
And that matters on this occasion because the 3 samples analysed were of medical personnel. And the females would have been mostly nurses and the males would include a lot of doctors. And, agonising though it must be to hear this, doctors tend to be of higher status than nurses. I'll now take 5 minutes to wash my mouth out.
So the male sample would be of a higher class overall and would eat differently. Upper class people are more careful about their health generally and their diet in particular. So all the unfortunate Dr Borgi has shown is something that we knew already: Upper class people are healthier than lower class people.
David Thomas actually said the same but in a more polite way. He spoke of two dietary patters which for brevity we might call the careful pattern and the careless pattern. He said the male doctors probably followed the careful pattern. What he didn't mention is that the careful pattern is more upper class while the careless pattern is mostly working class.
Sad when political correctness completely undermines the conclusions of very laborious medical research. NB: For those who did not get it. "skinger of forn" is a Spoonerism -- JR