Lies, damn lies & statistics

The galloping housewife takes her job seriously. Not herself, naturally – that’s a laugh a minute, but she does take her role as adviser and imparter of information and life tactics seriously. After all she is (reasonably) intelligent and (reasonably) well educated and she has still managed to screw a whole lot of shit up in her 48 trips around the sun. Even the fact she spent 3 years being taught how the human body works and make a bed perfectly in 0.38 seconds failed to prevent her from following a number of health fads because they seemed like a good idea at the time. While she remembers all sorts of random facts that have proven to be useless in real life such as the upper limit specific gravity of urine in the normally hydrated individual (1.030) and can execute the sharpest hospital corner on a sheet with her eyes closed - despite having used neither for any functional purpose in the last 10 years - she doesn’t trust her memory entirely for sharing with the important people in her life (that would be you, dear readers) so she has been boning up on a bunch of information and research in health & fitness recently to ensure she doesn’t put you all wrong.

And my god, there is some class A bullshit out there! It’s no wonder that my fellow galloping housewives are confused and befuddled. There’s pseudo science and spin, marketing and hot air aplenty. We are being sold lies, and often by people we should be able to trust. Even some doctors are peddling misinformation. It’s not their fault mind you – it’s all about the money. The history of the food industry which is pretty much the same thing as the diet industry is quite fascinating – or at least it appeals to the galloping housewife’s inner geek - but basically the reason we’re all fat is because American corn farmers wanted to be rich. They processed grain and fed us cornflakes and then created margarine and high fructose corn syrup out of the by-products. To sell cornflakes they had to promote a high carbohydrate diet, to sell the margarine, they needed a study that said animal fat was bad and they sold the high fructose corn syrup because it was a whole lot sweeter and cheaper than sugar. As the saying goes there’s lies, damn lies and statistics – all they needed was a couple of high profile and very selective studies to get in front of the FDA and ta-da! The next thing the bloody government is doing their marketing for them.

But we’re smarter than that now, right? Well, not so much. We’re still using very dodgy science with insufficient data to back up all sorts of fads. The galloping housewife was amused to watch a ‘documentary’ (imagine over active air quote usage here) about one of these sadly popular trends where the presenter showed how misinformation is presented in a trusted format and subsequently taken on as the gospel truth and then proceeded to attempt to blind the viewers with similar levels of bovine excrement. The tragic thing is that, like a certain election or two in 2016, the souls who see the claims that these people make are so desperate for change that they begin to believe in straight bananas and a wall. Or FODMAP and Keto. I know, I know, the galloping housewife will touch a few nerves, but she is not here to win friends and influence people, she is here to give you the real story. The one that doesn’t promise a quick fix, but equally won’t actually ruin your health and make you fat and miserable long term.

Don’t worry, as said before you’re not the only one to get sucked in. The galloping housewife has disappeared down the rabbit hole in search of Utopia (the place, not the horse) a number of times. Fortunately for her, she has the willpower of a gnat and gave up before any major damage was done. What has interested her most was the study of population health – the fact that we’ve really only gotten fat and unhealthy in the last couple of generations. Before you get all worried that she’s going to tell you that you need to eat like a caveman, don’t panic, she’s an equal opportunity cynic – she thinks Paleo is a crock of well-meaning shit as well. The important point that she is attempting to make here is be careful out there. As the saying goes ‘if it sounds too good to be true…’ Another good rule of thumb is that any programme that sells itself as the one true way to enlightenment is in fact more likely to be a fast road to hell.

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