Monday, April 8, 2013

Is McDonald's Influencing the BBC?

This morning the BBC News Web site ran a story by Health and Science Reporter James Gallagher on the risks of eating too much red meat. It was based on an article study in the journal Nature Medicine and included an interview with the lead research behind that article, Stanley Hazen. This was definitely worth reading, but it concluded with a chart showing the risks of six meals:

  1. Cooked breakfast (English style)
  2. Spaghetti bolognaise
  3. Five-ounce rump steak
  4. Doner kebab
  5. Big Mac
  6. Sunday roast (English style)
Only one of these meals was declared to be within the guidelines set by Hazen's study. Believe it or not, that was the Big Mac. However, it would appear that the evaluation was based only on the seven ounces of meat in that meal, not taking into account the risks of the other ingredients or the inevitable "up-selling" of that side of fries (which happened to be included in the photograph of the Big Mac).

Is this a sign of McDonald's exerting improper influence? If so, to whom. The chart claims to be based on a study by the British National Health Service in conjunction with the World Cancer Research Fund. On the other hand the decision to provide a list with five "bad" items and only one "good" one may have been a BBC editorial decision, as was the decision that the "good" item be a "branded" one. Sadly, there is no hyperlink to the data source from which the entries for the chart were extracted.

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