Peggy Sanders: How valuable are scientific studies?

Peggy Sanders
Oral, S.D.

Haven’t you at some time heard results of a study by a university or a federal group for which you already “knew” the results? For years, my cousin and I have told each other, “Stress makes you fat.”

We believed it because we experienced it. Not even taking into account the fact that for some, stress also leads to over eating. No, just the stress itself seemed to put weight on us. Of course it was anecdotal. Recently there have been scientific studies that say stress causes cortisol levels to rise and in turn high cortisol levels causes an increase in belly fat. Now, it is official.

Another case in point is connected to sports. Athletes have long been told to stretch before they play. Even though I am far from being an athlete, I have wondered if it is wise to stretch cold muscles. Wouldn’t it make more sense to warm up a little and then stretch? Along came a study that proclaimed cold stretching was passé and even could cause injuries. Just as I suspected.

One of the biggest proclamations to come out of a study several years ago when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) loftily declared, “Manure is slippery.”

“If they are so sure the count is wrong, and can even guess by how much, why do they even bother running a census?”

To which every person working in animal agriculture must have thought, “Really? I didn’t know. I’ll have to remember that. I am so glad a government agency thought to inform me.”

Studies I’d like to see, but doubt they will ever come to fruition: Does the fact that students are allowed less than 10 minutes to consume their noon meals at school contribute to the problem of overweight children? When one is used to bolting food down in 10 minutes or less, it becomes a habit not only in scheduled situations, but also when eating snacks and other meals. The body doesn’t have time to signal it is time to stop eating, leading to large amounts of calories being consumed, often more than is needed.

Thus, there may not be a correlation to the mind that eating more slowly helps control food intake and therefore, weight.

Or how does having 35 kids in an elementary classroom with one teacher affect the jail population ten or fifteen years down the road? Perhaps a study of why so many health care professionals smoke would be enlightening.

Regarding the census, a question that comes to mind is the government always says there is an undercount of actual residents; it doesn’t surprise me that they say that. What is circumspect is when the feds put a percentage on the number — widely ranging from 2 percent up to 20 percent — they believe were not counted.

If they are so sure the count is wrong, and can even guess by how much, why do they even bother running a census? Why not save the money and take a guess at the whole thing? 