This is a little crazy:

The study followed just under 11,600 men and women averaging 59 years old across the United Kingdom, surveying them once between 1993 and 1997 and again between 1998 and 2002. At the beginning and end of the 3.6-year period, participants estimated how many fruits (choosing from 11 kinds) and vegetables (choosing from 26) they ate. The changes in amount and variety gave the study its measure of the healthiness of participants’ divorce diets.

By the end of the study, 1.2 percent of men and 1.7 percent of women became separated or divorced. (The study also separately measured participants whose spouses had died.) Among them, the men ate 0.6 fewer grams of fruit per day than their married counterparts did, and with less variety. Divorced and separated women, on the other hand, didn’t change their habits much.

I thought about it and realized how small the numbers were: 1.2% of about half of 11,600 for the number of divorced men is about 50, it turned out to be 52 according to the study. The study also didn’t include a wide variety of people:

We used data from the prospective EPIC-Norfolk study. The EPIC-Norfolk study aimed to quantify the contribution of nutrition and other determinants of chronic diseases in middle and later life. It recruited from age-sex registers of general practices in Norfolk, UK, which is a geographical circumscribed area with little outward migration and a population mainly served by one District General Hospital, as described in detail elsewhere

It also didn’t exactly measure things exactly:

Participants also completed a Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) and detailed Health and Lifestyle Questionnaire in which they reported their occupation, educational level, health status and chronic health conditions (Day et al., 1999). A second health check (HC2), an average of 3.6 years following entry, was attended by 15 786 participants, among whom 12 331 completed a second FFQ.

So, results based on a small number of people from one small region that is 96.5% white that used two surveys to guess at what they ate (ok, it was really a 7 day food diary, but that still has problems) is worthy of an article in a newspaper? Perhaps this is why people don’t trust the results of studies. By the way, I’m not complaining about the study itself–it’s a fine study even if its results are weak.

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