The Dr Aseem Malhotra Missing Word Competition

I’m sure anyone interested in food and nutrition will have come across Dr Aseem Malhotra. In fact the way he springs up on the television, radio and newspapers like some demented anti-sugar, pro-fat jack in the box its pretty hard to ignore him.

Dr Malhotra occasionally asks some interesting questions about nutrition and diet. But he also propagates the views of fringe scientists and as others have previously documented (see here, here, here) recommends some questionable solutions based on weak arguments and rectally sourced statistics.

His recent appearance on Newsnight was supposedly to enable him to give Jeremy Paxman some ammunition to attack Coca Cola’s European President. So ignoring his claims that Coca-Cola

…markets these products as being full of energy….

(they don’t, but it is) and his hilarious just-say-no-tone when he says

…believe me, its energy your don’t want and energy you don’t need…

his main argument and evidence boils down to a summary he gives of this study.

The finding of the researchers at Imperial College are clear (well as clear as Epidemiological studies can ever be) and are broadly in agreement with other studies and meta analysis which show that regular consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. In short this is an omelette which needs no more eggs, just good communication of the existing studies.

Here is a transcript of Dr Malhotra’s summary of the study (see video 1.26)

So we know that the consumption of just one sugary drink, typical of a can of Cola increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 22% independent of body weight, and this was a study that was published from Imperial College researchers recently looking at about 16,000 people throughout Europe

So here is my challenge, a good old fashioned missing word competition*.

All you need to do is find the word that Dr Malhotra omitted in his summary of the study when he described it on Newsnight. Its rather an important word, particular if you are say a lay person who enjoys Coca-Cola in moderation. I’ll also give a bonus point for naming the actual % increased risk independent of body weight because Dr Malhotra doesn’t seem to know that either.

Now I’m sure this is just an oversight on his part rather than something deliberate but we often hear about how the publics understanding of science is damaged by confusing and poor quality reporting by the mainstream media.

When I see someone who is presented as an ‘expert’ making a sloppy error such as this (which co-incidentally massively enhances his arguments for taxing sugary drinks) as well as also making the same numerical error which the mainstream media appear to have copied from the press release I have to wonder whether we need an ‘expert’ to select the ‘experts’.

*the term ‘competition’ is used loosely. no prize. just for fun.

Update 07/03/2014

Dr Malhotra is still wrongly quoting the 22% figure in this article.

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6 thoughts on “The Dr Aseem Malhotra Missing Word Competition

  1. Befire I read this I thought I was the only person in the world who didn’t jump up and down with joy at being able to say “I told you so!” All these so called “experts” don’t know what they’re talking about. The world’s foremost expert on nutrition (from Croydon hospital) has proved all the rest of them wrong!

    1. Well, they don’t! Saturated fat is no demon, it doesn’t cause heart disease, it’s more complicated than that, we know it is. Yet the BHF will trot out the same line it’s being saying for years: “Sat Fat Causes Heart Disease”.

      Oh, and someone cited the Velvet Glove Iron Fist website? Well done. You do know that it is pro-smoking, don’t you?

      I suppose if you keep shooting down anything but the mantra trotted out by the British Heart Foundation, you can’t really go wrong, can you? Because anything else is “pseudoscience”?

      Good day

      1. Firstly, Velvet Glove Iron Fist is not as you claim “pro-smoking” and even if it was this is totally irrelevant because I linked to posts on a totally different subject. I’d love you to explain to me how someone’s views on smoking invalidates their post on an unrelated subject?

        This is going to come as a major shock to you Rin Dan but people have diverse views on a range of subjects. Linking to a particular source on a particular topic doesn’t mean I have to agree with every view on every other subject the author has. As bloggers however people often share some common ground, in this case the belief that evidence is rather important when making claims about public health.

        It’s telling however that you attempt to smear me on an unrelated topic rather than refute the claims on the topic in hand. Can you show where the VGIF posts or mine is factually incorrect? I challenge you to do just that.

        As for your strawman argument about saturated fat and the “shooting down anything but the mantra trotted out by the British Heart Foundation” I make no such claims and neither does the other comment on this post.

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