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Health Headline Hyperbole: Bacon edition

March 31, 2010

Front page headline in the StarPhoenix:

“Bacon alters brain in same manner as heroin: study”

The headline on the story isn’t much better:  “High-fat foods can lead to addiction: study”.

Really?  Maybe.  Once again, an animal study is being completely oversold to sell newspapers.  This time it was rats.  Were they fed only bacon?  No.  Were they fed exclusively high-fat food?  No.  They were actually fed a “cafeteria diet” including bacon sausage, cheesecake, pound cake, frosting, and chocolate.

Hmmm.  Could there possibly be another factor in the addictive quality of the food?  Yes.  SUGAR!

Do the journalists even read the reports before writing the stories and headlines?  I would guess that they only read the press release which is just not good enough.

The actual study results are reported here:  “Dopamine D2 receptors in addiction-like reward dysfunction and compulsive eating in obese rats.”  PM Johnson and PJ Kenny.  Nature Neuroscience, published online 28 March 2010.

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