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Fixin' Healthcare

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Lifestyle Chronicles - Limousines And Stockcars

Many studies of lifestyle and public health use self-reporting to gain needed information about personal habits and activities. This has been an unreliable tool for many reasons. A Danish research team at The National Institute of Public Research in Copenhagen chose to analyse 3.5 million supermarket transactions instead of asking people what they consumed.

The study was reported in the British Medical Journal and followed-up on previous data showing that drinking wine is linked to lower mortality rates than drinking beers and spirits. They found that wine buyers bought more olives, vegetables, fruits, poultry, cooking oil and low-fat cheese than buyers of beer. The beer buyers bought more cold cuts, chips, pork, butter, margarine, sausages, lamb and soft drinks.

The team suggested the food factor as a possible explanation of why drinking wine appears to be beneficial for health. No doubt they have a point but the more interesting question may be why these linkages exist. Could wine and beer create the tastes, or is it some deeper environmental or genetic programing?

Nevertheless, analyzing supermarket transactions is an interesting tool that provides a way to circumvent the lack of reliability for self-reporting.

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