Time for shameless self-promotion, because no shame is warranted! Also because it’s radiothon time on 3CR, and we need your donations to keep us on the air.
To see why that matters, let’s take a look at science reporting in the mainstream media. Exhibit A: page 3 of today’s Herald Sun:
No weight if kids choc-a-block
WHEN it comes to chocolate, kids will eat it – even if it’s the dark variety.
It won’t make them fat, but the jury is out on whether a daily dose of the sweet stuff is the best medicine for their heart health.
This article is about a recent study from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, where they gave children 7 grams of dark chocolate per day for 7 weeks, to see if it lowered their blood pressure in the same way as it does for adults.
It turned out the chocolate didn’t affect their blood pressure, but it also didn’t have any negative effects, like weight gain. Hence the headline, the claim “it won’t make them fat” and the photograph of a happy child buried in chocolate.
But hang on, how much chocolate was that? 7 grams, or as the article says, “two buttons of dark chocolate”. And further on we get a quote from the lead researcher, Professor Melissa Wake:
Researchers found there was no significant weight gain. “Like any food, if you eat too much dark chocolate you put on weight,” Prof Wake said.
Just as well I read that far, because until then I had the impression kids could eat as much as they want and never get fat.
Now maybe this doesn’t matter and maybe parents have enough sense not to believe wild claims in the Herald Sun, but maybe it’s also making scientific research sound wild and unreliable too.
Which is why we need good, alternative science news like you get on Lost in Science on 3CR, and why you should support independent media.
Radiothon runs from 4 to 17 June 2012, so head on over to www.3cr.org.au and donate online, or call 03 9419 8377.
And to find out more about chocolate and kids, read the media release from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, or see the original article, Chan EK, Quach J, Mensah FK, Sung V, Cheung M & Wake M 2012, “Dark chocolate for children’s blood pressure: randomised trial”, Archives of Disease in Childhood, published online 9 June 2012, doi:10.1136/archdischild-2011-301305.