Friday, November 16, 2007

Interesting blog - do these pieces of reseach really mean what they claim?

Just thought I'd flag up a really interesting site / blog that I have come across. It is worth putting in your RSS feed

Behind the headlines
Behind the headlines provides an unbiased and evidence-based analysis of health stories that make the news. Each day the NHS Choices team selects health stories that are making headlines. These, along with the scientific articles behind the stories, are sent to Bazian, a leading provider of evidence-based healthcare information. Bazian's clinicians and scientists analyse the research and produce impartial evidence-based assessments, which are edited and published by NHS Choices.

It is from the NHS so it is pretty orthodox - you won't see them bigging up low carb diets or supporting cholesterol sceptics like me, but the scientists there do a good job at analysing the various health stories that are hitting the headlines and giving a better - and more critical - idea of what they actually say.

You might be interested in their take on the "don't waste your money on expensive trainers story" that I highlighted a few weeks ago. They are a bit more sceptical about the research than I was!

There are several important points to be considered when interpreting the findings of this study:
  • The main part of this study assessed men while they were walking and as such cannot tell us much about the effects of cushioning while running. It is known that the impact on the foot when running is much greater than when walking and the cushioning properties of a shoe therefore become more important. Only nine men were assessed while they were running and as the researchers themselves say “it was not possible to reliably detect differences between pressure in shoes from different brands and cost ranges”. The newspapers interpretation of this study may lead you to believe that the study has shown no cushioning or comfort differences between low and high priced trainers used while running; however, this is not true.
  • Comfort was also assessed after only very short-term use of the trainers and is as the researchers acknowledge, very subjective.
  • The study did not assess the durability of shoes of different prices. How long a person’s trainers last is an important factor to consider when buying shoes. Further researcher is needed to compare this aspect of trainers in relation to their cost.
  • The men included in this study were all “neutral” runners. Specialised trainers that offer support at various positions on the foot have been designed for people who over- or under-pronate. The requirements of these runners are quite different and this study offers no information about them. Running shoes for those who over- or under-pronate may, by virtue of their specialised design, may be more expensive.
  • The trainers at the “cheap” end of the researchers’ spectrum cost £40–£45; this price may not be cheap to all purchasers.
  • Overall, this study does not offer much evidence that cheap trainers still protect a runner’s feet (while running).

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