Conversely, it is possible to fall ill despite living a life of unruffled stability.
Authoritative Proof, or Misinterpretation by Dietary Advocates? This is a large ecological study of the diet and lifestyle of adults aged years, in 65 counties in China. The ecological data were collected inand included information on diet, smoking, consumption of alcohol, as well as analysis of urine and blood samples.
The ecological data from were aggregated on a county level, and supplemented with county data from a nationwide mortality survey in as well as select demographic information from the Population Atlas of China.
The size and scope of the China Study are impressive. As a result, some dietary advocates have aggressively promoted the China Study as "proof" that vegan diets are optimal or best.
However, a closer look at the study reveals important limitations that impact the reliability, usefulness, and interpretation of the study results. Many dietary advocates are quick to cite the China Study without discussing the limitations inherent in such a study.
Limitations of the China Study Let us now briefly examine some of the limitations of the China Study and its results. Quotes from the principal China Study authors are used liberally below, so you can learn about the limitations from the study authors themselves. Level of aggregation of the study data yields, at most, 65 observations data points for analysis.
The data in the China Study are aggregated at the county level. This is important for two reasons: The study is often described as authoritative and reliable-- characteristics that are usually associated with "large" data sets.
When one learns there are only 65 observations and hundreds of variablesit suddenly seems far less authoritative. Note that the term "large" is relative; for simple analysis of a very few variables, 65 data points may be adequate, but for sophisticated models involving several variables, hundreds or even thousands of data points may be appropriate.
The limit of 65 observations places limits on the number of variables that can be analyzed simultaneously via multivariate-- that is, multiple- variable-- techniques. Spline methods are becoming increasingly important, because unlike traditional regression techniques they do not assume the functional form of a relationship between variables.
That is, they do not assume ahead of time what particular mathematical relationship may exist between one variable and another. Such limits are quite frustrating on a data set that includes hundreds of variables.
Campbell  appears to acknowledge this p. More complete evaluations of the virtually unlimited interactions between different disease causes may have to await the addition of still more dietary and lifestyle studies of disease mortality rates.
Limits on the use of geographical correlations, the primary data of the China Study monograph Junshi et al. The China Study monograph [Junshi et al.
Although it is possible to develop statistical models in which the dependent variable is a correlation, models constructed using the underlying variables from the relevant correlation may be far more meaningful and useful. Peto, writing in Junshi et al. Although geographic variation in particular disease rates can provide clear evidence that, in areas where those rates are high, that disease is largely avoidable, they may provide frustratingly unclear evidence as to exactly how it can be avoided Peto and Doll , as cited by Peto in Junshi et al.
The China Study report lists only 6 statistically significant correlations between meat- eating and disease mortality. Further, 4 of the correlations are negative, which indicates that the mortality rate for that disease decreased as meat consumption increased.
The two diseases that had positive correlations with meat consumption are schistosomiasis, a parasite, and pneumoconiosis and dust disease.
It should be noted here that correlation is a measure only of linear relationships, and other analytical methods may yield different results.
See tablepp. Ecological studies like the China Study generate hypotheses, they do not prove them.Nutrition Essay Examples.
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