Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Public health expert at work

It's been a bad few days for SAGE's Theresa Marteau. Regular readers may recall that she is obsessed with the size of wine glasses. She thinks people drink more if they use large glasses and she'd quite like to regulate their size as a result. 

Alas, the evidence for this theory is mixed, at best. Last year, she cobbled together a 'mega-analysis' of studies which didn't really show much but she made the best of it and put out a press release calling for wine glass regulation anyway. She was back again yesterday with a new study co-authored with eleven fellow 'public health' researchers who apparently have nothing better to do during a pandemic. 

This time she was looking at beer and cider glasses but she came up empty-handed once again...

This study provides no clear evidence that using straight-sided glasses, compared with usual, predominantly curved glasses, reduces the volume of draught beer and cider sold for on-site consumption in bars.

This followed a study published on Friday in which she and eight other 'public health' people conducted an experiment in a 'commercial-standard naturalistic shopping laboratory' to see if putting warning labels on alcoholic beverages would put people off buying them.

It didn't.

In a naturalistic shopping laboratory, there was no evidence that health warning labels describing the adverse health consequences of excessive alcohol consumption changed selection behaviour. 
Not only did it not work, but the researchers found "extreme evidence in favour of the null hypothesis". A nice phrase. 
There was no clear evidence of a difference in the HWL groups for the percentage of drinks selected that were alcoholic compared to no HWL (44%): image-and-text HWL: 46% (OR=1.08, 95%CI=0.82,1.42); text-only HWL: 41% (OR=0.87, 95%CI=0.67,1.14). Concordant with there being no difference between groups, there was extreme evidence in favour of the null hypothesis (Bayes factor [BF] < 0.01).

It looks like being a long wait for that Nobel Prize, but at least we know she's not fabricating the data.

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