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Are Headlines Too Good to be True?

A Bowl of Strawberry Ice Cream Glass of Cold Water

Ever read a headline that sounded too good to be true? Every day, news outlets put out headlines that do not portray the whole picture. Many times, the magazine or journal can be mostly truthful, but within the article, there could be information that is not fully supported. How do we separate real research findings from catchy headlines? We really have to read the article to do so. For example, there was recently an article published by Yoshihiko Koga, a professor at Tokyo's Kyorin University, who conducted a research study testing participants’ cognitive alertness after they had consumed ice cream for breakfast versus cold water.

The headline reads Eating Ice Cream for Breakfast May Improve Mental Performance and Alertness, Study Says. The study initially tested the alertness by conducting mental exercises on the computer. He found that participants had faster reaction times and better information-processing capabilities. He then wanted to see if the reaction times were due to the cold temperature of the ice cream, so he repeated the study with cold water. Participants had somewhat faster reaction times and elevated mental alertness, but not as much as when participants consumed ice cream. If you just stopped there, you would expect this claim from the headline to be accurate. However, if you dive into the article more, you see that many other factors were not tested or considered. It would be interesting if the discussion addressed the idea that participants had some form of food in their stomach versus nothing. That alone can increase alertness. Not to mention the fact that our brains need glucose to function, so consuming a high glucose meal will automatically aid in mental activity compared to water. This does not mean that ice cream is a recommended choice for breakfast.

Overall, when you are reading a news article or any sort of informational outlet, it is important to consider reading the full article and also to see who is funding the research because this can also have an impact on the outcomes of the study. When searching the internet, make sure to choose .org, .net, .edu resources if you can. These outlets are more reputable.

Check out these two articles and their catchy titles: