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Confounding Health Benefits of Ice Cream

Writing for The Atlantic, David Merritt Johns says that a most confounding story appeared in his inbox by a tipster who prefaced it by saying, “I’m sorry, it cracks me up every time I think about this.”

Harvard doctoral research student Andres Korat found a curious result from a 2018 study: Among diabetics, eating half a cup of ice cream a day was associated with a lower risk of heart problems. After consulting with his department chair, Korat set out to debunk his initial finding with more research, but it ended up being stubbornly consistent.

Korat wrote in his findings, “There are few plausible biological explanations for these results.” But he also mentioned several prior studies that found similar results. Mark Pereira is an epidemiologist who authored one of those prior studies. He said, “I still to this day don’t have an answer for it.”

In his deep dive into the story, Johns claims that several medical researchers ended up spinning their data into conclusions more readily acceptable to mainstream audiences. Instead of touting the health benefits of ice cream, they pivoted to yogurt. One research paper read: “Higher intake of yogurt is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Whereas other dairy foods and consumption of total dairy are not.”

“The conclusions weren’t exactly accurately written,” acknowledged Dariush Mozaffarian, who co-authored the paper. “Saying no foods were associated—ice cream was associated.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

Even with advances in medical knowledge and technology, the human body is complex and full of surprises. Only God understands it fully, and our best attempts are foolish compared to God's wisdom.

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