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Thread: Sweetened Drinks Linked to Depression, Coffee Tied to Lower Risk

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Sweetened Drinks Linked to Depression, Coffee Tied to Lower Risk

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    People who drank more than four cans or cups per day of soda were 30 percent more likely to develop depression than those who drank no soda. Those who drank four cans of fruit punch per day were about 38 percent more likely to develop depression than those who did not drink sweetened drinks. People who drank four cups of coffee per day were about 10 percent less likely to develop depression than those who drank no coffee. The risk appeared to be greater for people who drank diet than regular soda, diet than regular fruit punches and for diet than regular iced tea.

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    Last edited by Javaphile; 29th January 2013 at 09:41 AM. Reason: correct link
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    That study is exceptionally flawed and should be taken with a grain of sugar. It has not been peer reviewed, been poorly examined, and if you look at the figures, I think it was just over 4% of the 260k odd number of participants were shown to be depressed. The national average I believe is something like 6.7%. Therefore, the group had a lower number of depressed than if you were looking at the general population. Conclusions to be drawn, none.

    I do note they missed all that info about the national average out of the article.

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    I think it was just over 4% of the 260k odd number of participants were shown to be depressed. The national average I believe is something like 6.7%
    You can't simply use the difference in those two numbers to say the study and the researchers conclusions are exceptionally flawed. 10-15% of women are diagnosed with postpartum depression after giving birth and seeing as the age of the participants in the study was a minimum of 54 when diagnosed with depression clearly very few would fall into that category. Additionally the largest segment of the population that is diagnosed with depression are well below the age of 54. The median age of onset is 32. Given those numbers it should come as no surprise that fewer people in the study were diagnosed with depression than the figure for the population as a whole.

    With all that said neither those figures nor all that was said in the press release is enough to verify nor deny the stated results the researchers came to. I'd love to see the full write up of the study including its methodology. No doubt more will be forth coming on it after its presentation at the conference in March.


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    Regardless of their methodology, which I'm sure will be too easy to pull to pieces, the conclusion is deeply flawed. The only sensible conclusion from such a study, if the methodology was sound, is that there appears to be an association between consumption of sweet beverages and depression in the population group represented by the study cohort. I cannot think of any statistical means by which the investigators could possibly establish a causative association, other than by pure assumption of course, which is what the reporter has employed to make the link.

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Aaahhhh.....I love a good debate!

    Quote Originally Posted by habahabanero View Post
    Regardless of their methodology, which I'm sure will be too easy to pull to pieces, the conclusion is deeply flawed.
    The middle phrase is an assumption. With what little information is given in the press release it is impossible to know what their methodology was and hence it is impossible to conclude whether or not it will stand up under analysis. The last phrase in the sentence makes it appear that you are seeing a conclusion that was never stated by the researchers. Namely that the consumption of sweetened beverages causes depression.

    Quote Originally Posted by habahabanero View Post
    The only sensible conclusion from such a study, if the methodology was sound, is that there appears to be an association between consumption of sweet beverages and depression in the population group represented by the study cohort.
    This what the statistical analysis of their collected data yielded:

    People who drank more than four cans or cups per day of soda were 30 percent more likely to develop depression than those who drank no soda. Those who drank four cans of fruit punch per day were about 38 percent more likely to develop depression than those who did not drink sweetened drinks. People who drank four cups of coffee per day were about 10 percent less likely to develop depression than those who drank no coffee. The risk appeared to be greater for people who drank diet than regular soda, diet than regular fruit punches and for diet than regular iced tea.
    These are raw statistics. This paragraph does not state that the drinks caused or prevented the depression. It merely states the statistical association they found in their data.

    Quote Originally Posted by habahabanero View Post
    I cannot think of any statistical means by which the investigators could possibly establish a causative association, other than by pure assumption of course, which is what the reporter has employed to make the link.
    The researchers/study never claim there is a causative association. The only stated conclusions are:

    New research suggests that drinking sweetened beverages, especially diet drinks, is associated with an increased risk of depression in adults while drinking coffee was tied to a slightly lower risk.
    “Our research suggests that cutting out or down on sweetened diet drinks or replacing them with unsweetened coffee may naturally help lower your depression risk,” said Chen. “More research is needed to confirm these findings, and people with depression should continue to take depression medications prescribed by their doctors.”
    There is no statement that the drinks cause the depression. Instead terms like 'research suggests', 'is associated with', 'was tied to', 'may naturally help' were used to describe their conclusion with the closing sentence stating that more research is needed to confirm their findings.

    There is not a single statement that the drinks cause the condition. Any perception of such a statement would be an assumption on the readers part.


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    What is the point of debate on a poorly written article, written before a review of the study could be done to test the validity of the statements made. It is premature to draw any conclusions, and there are enough articles out there questioning the validity of the statments.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seansnightmare View Post
    there are enough articles out there questioning the validity of the statments.
    Such as?


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    Sweetened Drinks Linked to Depression, Coffee Tied to Lower Risk

    In other news, diet sodas have been "associated with" obesity.

    Causality assumed by big media. Much controversy. Much success!

    /chuckle

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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    Such as?


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    It appears there is a misunderstanding of what the originally linked page is. As I have repeatedly referred to it and as is clearly stated on the linked page in large bold type it is a press release, not a scientific article or presentation of research. As such its purpose is not to argue a position, present proof, or convince people of something. Rather it is simply an announcement. To wit an announcement of the presentation of the study at the upcoming American Academy of Neurology’s annual conference. The stated findings of the study caught my eye and I found it interesting enough to justify its posting here.

    Does the consumption of sweetened drinks cause depression? Who knows. I've certainly not made the claim that it does nor from what the press release says have the researchers/authors of the study. On the surface the statistical results found by the study as stated in the press release merit a deeper look at the study and further research to determine just what the nature of the link is.


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    I'm so sorry if my assumptions seem out of place on a coffee forum, but I mistook the chief author's statement for a conclusion.

    "Our research suggests that cutting out or down on sweetened diet drinks or replacing them with unsweetened coffee may naturally help lower your depression risk,” said Chen. “More research is needed to confirm these findings, and people with depression should continue to take depression medications prescribed by their doctors.”

    But then rereading it, it sure as hell looks like he's made a statement to the press that implies a causative relationship, and therefore a conclusion - hence my scepticism about the entire study, cause somewhere something aint right. Once a statement is made to the press it is assumed the conclusion of the research is final and accurate, it doesn't allow for peer review - which is the most important quality control and final hurdle for any research. It is imperative that due process of peer review is completed prior to press release.

    I will admit it probably isn't the methodology, as you pointed out, Javaphile. To be more specific, what I lumped under methodology for simplicity sake is much more complicated, the multivariate analysis on a study like this will be monstrous due to the strength of the confounders, and I can't imagine untangling 10 years worth and still having meaningful statistics.

    I also have to admit to a conflict of interest. I am profoundly cynical about these massive observational studies, for the most part they are research for the sake of research. They are costly, financially and in terms of hours of human endeavour, yet yield very little in return. The money and effort would be much better spent solving real world health issues. This particular study certainly hasn't yielded a meaningful result, even if the methodology is rock solid, the data is as pure as the driven snow, the multivariate analysis is exhaustive and the author's press statement valid it won't change what people do, and further research is likely to be even less world changing.



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