Sunday, May 24, 2015

Science mis-reporting: 'Eat rice cold for fewer calories'

Like an old man on a Sunday morning, I have just vented my frustration about an article I read in the press. 'Eat rice cold for fewer calories'. Here is the note I sent to the BBC:

..I would like to report a case of somewhat misleading and confusing reporting. The linked article has several flaws:

- Misleading title: The title quote 'Eat rice cold for fewer calories' but this quote is not found anywhere in the text. Also, it is misleading as the cold rice in the study was reheated after the drying stage (source: http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2015/03/low-calorie-healthy-rice-resistant-starch). I would suggest changing the headline to something along the lines of "Reducing calories from rice" i.e. make people read further to reduce the probability of changed behaviour based on a headline. I appreciate you mention the reheating possibility but this conflicts with the headline.

- The article states that "According to the Sri Lankan researchers, treating rice in this way reduces its calories by up to 60%.". This should be clarified further. The research showed only a calorie reduction of 10-12%, and ‘perhaps as high as 50 or 60%’ if the treatments were applied other varieties. (source: above).

- The article correctly picks out the two main aspects of the process (cooking for 40 minutes and cooling for 12 hours), but makes no mention of the full process, which included over drying for 2.5 hours. James says that the two steps in the article are the important ones 'in theory' only. Even if this is likely, it is yet to be proven. 

I would recommend amending the article appropriately and listening to the press conference on the topic to be held tomorrow (broadcast live http://bit.ly/ACSLiveDenver).

Kind regards

Riz

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