Too much saturated fat during pregnancy sets kids up for obesity? Let’s not jump to conclusions

Monday, October 19, 2009 14:09
Comments Off on Too much saturated fat during pregnancy sets kids up for obesity? Let’s not jump to conclusions

Here's what the study found: If you feed a pregnant mouse a high-fat diet, the mouse's offspring are more susceptible to fatty liver disease. (Access the journal article here.)

Here's how it was reported to the media: Women eating a diet high in saturated fat during pregnancy increase the risk of fatty liver disease in their children. (Read the press release here.)

Cue senseless panic among pregnant women everywhere and a new old
wives' tale about the dangers of eating saturated fat during pregnancy.

The press version never mentions that the study was done on mice. In fact, the use of the words "woman," "mother," and "child" to describe the mice creates the strong false impression that this research was done on humans.

Furthermore,  the study compared high-fat versus normal-fat rat chow, not saturated versus other types of fat. The word "saturated" doesn't appear anywhere in the published study. So why should we conclude that saturated fat is any worse than any other type of fat?

It's a shame when worthwhile research gets undercut by sloppy, irresponsible reporting. But it's not just the media. Researchers giving sensational, misleading quotes to the press are a big part of the problem–and they should really know better.

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