Guest Post by A. Hack
A study published this week in the Journal of Nutritive Science suggests that high-carb diets rich in grains may be the secret to a long life.
Professors Heimlich Manoeuvre and Claus Van Munchausen from the Institute of Nutritionally Nutritious Nutrition followed around 300 cases over 12 months to test their hypothesis that greater consumption of grain-based carbohydrates leads to increased longevity. The study found a strong relationship between age at death and the consumption of grain-based carbohydrates.
To avoid confounding factors that might contradict their hypothesis, the professors excluded people who ate a low carbohydrate diet (fewer than 80% as a proportion of calories.)
"This study is all about understanding the effects of carbohydrate on age" said Professor Munchausen,"so by choosing a sample that includes only people who eat plenty of carbohydrate we ensure a meaningful set of results."
In addition, the professors sampled only people who were eating fewer than 500 calories per day and engaged in vigorous exercise for 2 hours or more per day.
"With so many people exercising and dieting these days it was important to study the effects of carbohydrate in a context that reflects society's current trends," said Professor Munchausen.
One controversial aspect to the study is the high number of deaths in the sample, primarily from malnutrition, dehydration and exhaustion. Critics have accused the authors of 'ambulance-chasing' and 'prowling eating disorder web sites like vultures' - but the professors remain defiant.
"These people fail to understand the difficulty in designing a study of this nature," said Professor Munchausen, "and in any case the subjects were quite willing participants once we had offered them money."
Further criticism has come from those claiming conflicts of interest lie at the heart of this study. Asked about his membership of the American Grain Association and European Grain Farmers Committee, Professor Manoeuvre was dismissive.
"I am perfectly capable of separating my commercial and academic roles," he said, from his 15-bedroom, 10 million-dollar, sea-front property. "These accusations are motivated by jealousy and a desire to see others fail."
Meanwhile, Professor Van Munchausen, whose wife chairs the Bread Users and Manufacturers Society, insisted there was no way his research could have been influenced by external factors. "I do not get involved with BUMS," he was keen to stress. "I leave that up to my wife."
In spite of question marks over the methodology, many are proclaiming the death of low-carb diets and sales of bread have increased by 10% overnight.