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an Economist Intelligence Unit business healthcare

Miracle foods: myth and the media

February 9th 2011

We’ve been working with NHS choices on the Behind the Headlines project for over three years now. In that time we’ve clocked up a significant number of appraisals of health stories that appear in our daily media. In fact, we’ve written two a day since July 2007. That adds up to a total of, well, quite a lot…

Food stories are common in the news and we’ve teamed up with our colleagues at the NHS to write a report that summarises some of the issues around food reporting in the media: Miracle foods: myths and the media. Sometimes it is hard to believe what you read and we discuss why this is the case with studies of what we eat and drink. We don’t want to give the ending away, but here’s an excerpt:

“The facts about the latest dietary discoveries are rarely as simple as the headlines imply. Accurately testing how any one element of our diet may affect our health is fiendishly difficult. And this means scientists’ conclusions, and media reports of them, should routinely be taken with a pinch of salt.”

Should reading it inspire you to find out more about how science is reported in the media on a daily basis, you can peruse the Behind the Headlines back catalogue. As we said above, you can find a total of, err… we’re scientists, not mathematicians…