Diabetes: Nuts are said to reduce risk

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Diabetes: Olive oil and nuts are said to reduce the risk by 30 percent

Around 285 million people worldwide have diabetes, and the trend is rising. For some scientists, diabetes is the epidemic of the 21st century. There are two types of diabetes, type I and type II, distinguished by the medical profession. Type I has around 5 percent of diabetics. In this form, the pancreas does not produce enough or no insulin. On the other hand, too much insulin is released in type II and the body is unable to absorb the hormone. This leads to excessive blood sugar levels. Those affected often feel dull and worn out, are extremely thirsty and suffer from real cravings. Eyesight is often impaired and the susceptibility to infections is sometimes increased.

According to a recent Spanish study, a Mediterranean diet miraculously reduces the risk by 30 percent. In a study with 3,541 older Spaniards who showed an increased risk of heart disease, doctors had formed three groups of sick people and set up a different eating plan for each one.

One group received a Mediterranean diet. In addition, they were given one liter of extra virgin olive oil per week. The other ate 210 grams of nuts a week and the third ate differently than she usually did. After four years, the three groups were re-examined and the researchers found that 8.8 percent of the participants in the third group had developed diabetes in the meantime, while the group of nut eaters had only 7.4 percent. For those who had olive oil on their menu, it was only 6.9 percent. However, the Spaniards published a reduction of 30 percent, which at first glance looks like an incorrect presentation of the results.

But how did the scientists come to this value, asked the Berlin psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer, the statistician Walter Krämer and Thomas Brauer from the Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung. They took a closer look at the statistics and the evaluation of the Spaniards. The background to this is that the trio has published the “Statistics of the Month” regularly since 2012. In their research, it was noticed that the researchers presented their results in relative numbers. Because the result of diabetes fell statistically from 8.8 percent to 6.9 percent - just 1.9 percent.

Relative numbers show results in a better light "Here, a consistently successful communication trick was used," said the German trio. The Spaniards simply divided the 1.9 percent by 8.8 percent and came up with a result of 21.3 percent. If you then adjust the information about age and gender and then take the average of the results of olive oil and nut food, the result is 30 percent at the end.

"Relative risks are large numbers and impressive, while absolute risks are small and not remarkable," argues Gigerenzer. But the information is correct and there is no reason to complain to the Spaniards that it is misrepresented. "The number does not mean that out of every 100 people who eat Mediterranean food, 30 suffer less from diabetes." Studies have shown that the specification of a relative risk reduction misleads many people because they would like to be confused with absolute values. "Even for doctors, this difference is not always clearly understandable. A reduction of just 1.9 percent would certainly not have caused a sensation. For Gigerenzer, the original article gives the impression that nuts work as well as olive oil that in addition to nuts, the authors of the study also received financial support from the nut industry, which everyone has to decide for themselves, but it looks a lot like it. (fr)

Image: Tim Reckmann / pixelio.de

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