Satiating my Curiosity

In studying up for my previous posts on various websites and food blogs, I’ve encountered a host of interesting and alarming studies that have changed the way I think and feel about the health issues I’ve discussed.

Particularly interesting were the cereal-fed rats experiments I read about for “Adjacent to this Complete Breakfast” (although animal testing makes me sad…), and Cornell Food Labs’ low-fat portion control study that I read about for Health Halos: Fighting Back. I enjoyed the second study because it felt very close to home; how would have fared as a participant?

I have been spinning my wheels thinking about interesting studies that I myself could conduct to further shed light on the way people can be mislead by food labels (an area that I find particularly interesting and terrifying), the ways that people learn their health habits, and how our relationships with health are shaped.

I’ve considered trying to affirm the results found in many of the Cornell Food Labs studies, such as the low-fat snacks study or the organic labels bias test. I’m mostly interested in seeing if I can reproduce the findings of each study in my own circles. It would also be interesting to see how results differ in different situations, such as in front of a gym.

However, I’m vastly more interested in gathering honest data rather than in trying to trick participants into affirming some hypothesis that they aren’t aware they’re supporting. One thing that bothers me about the Cornell Food Labs studies is that it seemed as if they were trying to deceive the participants from the outset, which I don’t think I’d enjoy taking part in (although I realize the value). I think that interviewing people or distributing a survey would be more enjoyable for me and more valuable for the participants; it would be great to be able to format the study in such a way so as to encourage the participants to think more critically about their health habits.

Health is, obviously, a very human issue, so I’d like to talk to people and hear about individual experiences. The only downside is that I quite dislike taking surveys… if I can devise a survey short and interesting enough to feel justified in subjecting my friends to it, then I will; otherwise, I’ll have to satisfy my curiosity in some other way!

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