Across many of the major media outlets, new articles state that “Research Shows Mediterranean Diet Can Cut Heart Disease and Stroke Risk.” New evidence abounds from a recent large-scale study that looked at 7,400 people in Spain over five years. The concept was to compare two groups of people, one on the Mediterranean diet (which emphasizes healthy oils and nuts), while the other group was on a more standard low-fat diet. The Mediterranean dieters had a 30 percent reduced risk of heart disease.
Personally, I thought this was already an established fact, and I didn’t realize it was still a source of contention in the medical community. I can remember in the early 2000s, if not earlier, that there was a relationship between eating healthy oils and nuts and a reduced risk of heart ailments. Apparently now there is proof, I guess. With about two seconds of effort on PubMed, I found a quick study that suggested this back in 1995. But whatever, I guess this is still groundbreaking enough for NYTimes, NPR, and many other news organizations to carry it.
Perhaps I am being a bit cynical. Maybe my coffee hasn’t hit yet today. I just can’t help but feel a bit trapped in the cyclical nature of the media coverage of dieting and other health topics. I suppose there is an immense amount of money invested in the diet, food research, and exercise industry, and study after study will continue to be funded in order to prove or disprove the top diet of the year. But does it really help people make good decisions? I guess I am just over it. Every other week someone is touting the health benefits of a new program or system to follow. I can’t help but feel that all the media coverage really does is just dilute the real message into background noise.
I appreciate the ongoing research into diet and fitness, I really do . . . I think it is important to get to the fundamental roots of disease and learn effective strategies for prevention. Maybe I just need more coffee. But really, perhaps the point I am getting at is all summed up by one of the comments on NPR’s version of the article, because until people realize this . . . nothing will change:
“What the article fails to note is that Olive Garden is not a Mediterranean diet”