Have you heard the message that coffee was a good source of antioxidants? That message came out a few years ago and all the coffee drinkers (and coffee shops) were thrilled at this fabulous news. The news media reported this information based on a presentation made at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society.
The researchers took 100 foods and beverages that were common in the American diet and analyzed them for antioxidant content. Then they looked at the USDA’s estimated per capita consumption of these foods.
The media told us that coffee was a health food and it was a good source of antioxidants. However, if you look at what the presenter said it was far from that conclusion. What he reported was that coffee contains antioxidants and because the American diet is so poor… (wow!)… many people get most of their antioxidants from coffee. Wait a minute! That is completely different from the report that hit the news wires. A list of antioxidant values of foods was given (by the presenter) and coffee was way down on the list.
So there was a huge difference between what was presented by the researcher and what was reported by the media. That is why it becomes necessary to look at research and not just a reported story. We need to know who funded the research, who did the research and how the study was constructed. If we don’t get the inside story we could be using bad information to make our choices and that would not help us. Fortunately, not all journalists are this flippant about their work but it’s good that we are aware of the difference between research and irresponsible journalism.