10
Jan
12

Trotting out the party line

So let’s hammer on the salt/hypertension/CVD hypothesis again (see previously here, here, and especially here, among others).  Megan McArdle relays her experience with high blood pressure, and in particular with sanctimonious twits telling her she just shouldn’t have it (with the implication, as usual, that medical conditions with not-at-all-simple endocrinological components are probably just Just Punishment for some form of Gluttony):

She recalls a conversation with her doctor, immediately subsequent to discovering that her blood pressure had been going up since her mid-thirties for no immediately-apparent reason, thus:

That did not stop my doctor from offering ridiculous suggestions as to how I might control it.  In her defense, she was a resident in internal medicine, and was presumably required to give me ludicrous advice by whatever shadowy figure was supervising her and actually making the decisions.  First she came back and told me that a glass of wine with dinner more nights than not was “really a lot” of drinking, in a tone that would have been more appropriate had I confessed that I frequently woke up on the floor of our living room, surrounded by empty scotch bottles that I couldn’t remember having purchased.

Then, after another trip to consult her dark overlord attending, she told me that I should cut down on my salt intake by eschewing pretzels, potato chips, and that sort of thing.  The following dialogue is an approximation of our discussion.

“I don’t eat chips more than once a month.”

“Maybe it’s your lunches, and your dinners out, then.  Restaurant meals use a lot of salt.”

“95% of my meals come from my own kitchen.”

“And of course, the cold cuts  you buy in the grocery store . . . ”

“I don’t like sandwiches.”

“Well, processed foods in general have high sodium.  You should cut them out.”

“You want me to make everything I eat from scratch?”  I asked.

“It’s much healthier,” she said weakly.

Uh huh.  Clearly someone who’s hypertensive must be eating a lot of salt, and there’s no other possibility that could account for said hypertension, so this particular resident is forced to the bizarre conclusion that someone who cooks 95% of her own meals must be eating too much processed food.  Is anyone else reminded of witch trials?

She also links to this piece from the New York Times, which drives me utterly batshit insane in its ability to touch upon topics I’ve written on recently — mostly involving fat, obesity, and insulin resistance — while gamely avoiding the conclusion that seems facepalmingly obvious from where I sit.  On the other hand, it’s the NYT doing science reporting, so I really ought to give them credit for bucking one piece of conventional wisdom (“zOMG salt is teh debil!“) and writing multi-sentence paragraphs more often than not.

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