Problems with Scientific Research – Part 1


Well hi there; it’s been awhile! First of all I want to thank all of those for the messages of concern – I’m alive and well 🙂 Over the last 14 weeks, I decided to take a step back from the blog whilst I completed one of the final semesters of my degree in Nutritional Medicine (5 units and 23 assignments later!). It was a tough decision, but after much deliberation I realised that publishing quality information was more important to me than posting for website hits alone, so here we are. I’m pleased to report that I made it, I’m refreshed and ready to share all that I learnt and more. To kick things off, I wanted to talk about one of the most important lessons learned from my studies to-date – the flaws in evidence based practice.

Part of this semester required me to select a research topic and critically analyse the available scientific literature in a bid to develop an evidence based treatment plan. I opted to select a highly controversial but extremely popular nutrition topic that was currently praised by the media and health bloggers, but slammed by others with a ‘health education’. I guess you could say I was searching for the ‘truth’, as so many of us are.

After weeks and weeks of research, I pulled apart published studies from reputable sources; I investigated conflicts of interest and analysed all available data. I spent hours sifting through each study with a fine toothcomb and to my surprise, all I came up with was a whole lot of inconclusive information. That’s right, despite what the media circus and well educated ‘health experts’ were stating, at this point in time, no one was right and no one was wrong. The truth is, after all those scientific studies were published and analysed, despite what we were being led to believe, no one really had a bloody clue, just an opinion. JUST. AN. OPINION. (Please, pause on this for a moment).

What I did find was an endless amount of published scientific research that had been heavily funded by large corporations with a vested interest in the results. Whilst some may call it a coincidence, the results of each funded study seemed to support extra sales of their product. This suggests, but does not confirm, financial bias.

As I sat there pulling together this information, I couldn’t help but ask myself why so many of us were demanding scientific evidence to validate our opinions, when there is a chance that a large proportion of the research itself is perhaps flawed? Whilst this is something we’re all aware of, I don’t think we understand the extent at which it is occurring and why. Just food some for thought.

If you’d like to know more, I continue this discussion over at ‘Problems with Scientific Research – Part 2′, here.

NOTE: My practice is based upon both evidence based medicine and a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. I completely understand the need for evidence based medicine and will continue to practice this way going forward; however I wanted to share my thoughts and concerns regarding the validity of some scientific studies in a bid to inspire us all to think more critically about the information we’re sold.


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Meet Alyse

I’m a qualified Nutritionist who believes an evidence-based approach to modern nutrition is severely under-rated. Patients are so often left in the dark when it comes to health-care and as a firm believer in the old saying “knowledge is power”, my ultimate goal is to provide my readers, students and patients with clear and actionable advice that ultimately helps you reach your full potential.