You probably read the shocking revelation that – hold on to your hats – eating three rashers of bacon a day will increase your risk of having a heart attack. Where I come from that’s called stating the blinkin’ obvious.
What will the next revelation be? Eating three bags of sugar a day increases the chances of your teeth falling out; guzzling ice cream means you’re more likely to put on weight; jumping out of the window on the 10th floor of a hotel increases the possibility of dying in a splattered bloody heap on the pavement?
This study about bacon (and all other processed meats) was carried out on 37,000 men over 12 years and no doubt cost an absolute packet.
Despite the obvious results – that it’s not good for you if eaten in large quantities over a lengthy period of time – the story was still plastered all over the front page of the Daily Express, a newspaper that adores a health scare.
Writing in sombre tones that suggested bacon was deadlier than an AK47, The Express revealed how regular bacon-eaters are twice as likely to snuff it from heart failure ... “says a new study exposing the deadly dangers of a diet packed with processed meats”.
The Express loves a health story, there’s rarely anything else on the front page. Recent headlines have included Cancer Risk In Your Fry-Up; Doctors’ Ban On Statins - Medics At War Over Drug Advice; and the questionable Silent Baby Killing Virus Can Be Stopped By Washing Your Hands.
On the rare occasions the Express doesn’t have a health scare story on its front page, it is instead either about asylum seekers or a celebrity we’ve never heard of taking drugs.
But back to the point in hand – utterly pointless studies, such as the bacon one, which cost money and have outcomes we all knew before being told them.
To prove my point I’ll give you an example.
Last year an American firm launched a large study into whether it was dangerous to drive and talk on your mobile phone at the same time? If they’d come to me, I would have told them – completely free of charge – that yes it is dangerous to call your wife and natter about who’s turn it is to sort tea rather than concentrating on a fast-approaching mini-roundabout.
Instead, they spent six months on this study before announcing “we found that using a phone seems to make drivers concentrate less on the road and be potentially more erratic behind the wheel’”.
Other studies carried out, and I have made none of these up, came to the conclusions that going bald is upsetting, sword swallowing is dangerous, and – my personal favourite – you should keep babies away from ledges (a line from the conclusion of this study reads; ‘evidently infants should not be left close to a brink’). All utterly pointless.
Still, it gives these so-called experts at universities something to do with their time. Right, time for a bacon butty.