It seems that the key is to not eat chocolate or drink fizzy drinks. Well, that is if you believe two recent news reports.
The first, found on the BBC news website, states that chocolate lovers are more depressive. Around 1000 people took part in the study and they were asked about how much chocolate they eat per week. They also filled in a standard questionnaire which measures their mood. The study showed that people who ate the most chocolate scored most highly on the test, showing a link between chocolate eating and depression. So, does eating chocolate make you depressed, or do depressed people eat more chocolate? As it is not uncommon for people to crave food when feeling under the weather, I would say that the latter explanation is probably more likely, especially as most studies about chocolate point out that eating chocolate causes the release of serotonin and actually lifts your mood.
The second story was in the Daily Mail, and also reports on a scientific study. This suggests that drinking fizzy drinks may cause people to age prematurely. The researchers used genetically engineered mice that aged prematurely (klotho-knockout mice) in the study so the important fact here is that they are relying on evidence gained from a study of mice, which is not evidence that the same thing would happen in humans. The high sugar and calorie content of fizzy drinks is far more likely to do damage to the body than the phosphate.
I have created a PowerPoint presentation which could be used in a GCSE lesson when looking at the claims of scientific studies. The students could read headline and then see if they believe it after reading the details of the study. The first slide contains the
chocolate report, and is easier than the fizzy drinks one.
The NHS ‘behind the headlines’ website is an excellent resource because it tells you the facts behind the studies that you read about. Looking at one of their reports, along with the sensationalist headline that you would find in a newspaper would be a great way of showing students that media reports of scientific studies are often reported wrongly or the findings exaggerated for impact.