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CrossFit Health is an investigation into the ills of modern medicine and the wilful abuse of the public’s trust in science. The lessons learned from the legal dismantling of fake science, a crooked journal, and perjuring scientists have given us a forensic view as to how everything might have gone so wrong. We’re calling the combination of runaway medical costs and disease rates–which many profit from but none combat effectively—“The Mess.”

This 2013 analysis, led by Robert Lustig and cited in his lecture at CrossFit HQ on March 9, 2019, investigates the association between sugar availability and diabetes through a review of international food supply data from the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization. While the analysis is limited by its correlative nature and other issues surrounding both international and observational research, the data indicate that changes in sugar consumption have a stronger association with diabetes prevalence than changes in overall caloric consumption and that, at a population level, sugar consumption and GDP predict diabetes prevalence.

Read MoreThe Relationship of Sugar to Population-Level Diabetes Prevalence: An Econometric Analysis of Repeated Cross-Sectional Data
JAMA

"From 1997 through 2016, medical marketing expanded substantially, and spending increased from $17.7 to $29.9 billion, with direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs and health services accounting for the most rapid growth, and pharmaceutical marketing to health professionals accounting for most promotional spending."

Read the article Medical Marketing in the United States, 1997-2016

Life expectancy at birth in the United States has fallen for the third year in a row, signaling a crisis in national health. In addition to the opioid epidemic, researchers note statistically significant increases in deaths from chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and stroke. In response to this situation, however, U.S. health agencies have understated the problem, ignored the causes, and partnered with the opioid manufacturers, soda companies, and private interests directly contributing to the crisis. A tsunami of chronic disease has landed, and CrossFit affiliates are lifeboats offering a chance for individual health where the institutions established to be the guardians of public health have failed.

Read More U.S. Life Expectancy Continues to Decline, Exposing Failure of Public Health Institutions

In the final installment of their series on the sleights of hand that skew scientific research, Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades turn a critical eye toward examples of outright fraud. They place studies that stray from the scientific method, such as those published under the supervision of Dr. Brian Wansink, under the rubric of fraud; Wansink encouraged his students to torture data and retroactively create hypotheses to produce publishable papers. The Drs. Eades also cite examples of fraud from the realm of stem-cell research and ultimately ask whether, when published research findings are tainted, it’s possible for physicians to practice evidence-based medicine.

Read MoreThe Cardinal Sins of Skewed Research, Part 5: Burning Britches

In this 2012 review, Jack W. Scannell, Alex Blanckley, Helen Boldon, and Brian Warrington discuss “Eroom’s Law,” which focuses on the drug market instead of technology and is the opposite of Moore’s Law in name and concept: The cost of developing a new drug doubles approximately every nine years, indicating that the number of drugs approved per billion dollars spent has fallen 80-fold since 1950. The authors review four major factors for this phenomenon.

Read MoreEroom's Law

Drs. Mary Dan and Michael Eades continue their series on the cardinal sins of scientific research, reviewing the bait-and-switch methods researchers often employ to earn or redirect attention. They discuss how statin manufacturers shifted their desired endpoints, turning their focus to cholesterol reduction (regardless of whether such reduction is shown to improve health) rather than the actual prevention of cardiovascular events in order to justify drug prescriptions. The technique of p-value hacking is also considered.

Read MoreThe Cardinal Sins of Skewed Research, Part 4: Bait and Switch

In this 1975 review, Gina Kolata comments on the cost and necessity of two major clinical trial investments by the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI, now the NHLBI): the Lipid Research Clinics Primary Prevention Trial (LRC-PPT) and Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT). “With the passage of the Heart, Lung, and Blood Act in 1972, several large-scale clinical trials were planned to see whether people can voluntarily decrease their risk of heart disease. Now, 4 years later, screening for participants in the two most extensive and most expensive of these trials is nearly complete, but the trials are turning out to cost far more than anyone anticipated,” Kolata writes. As she notes, “A national obsession with dietary fats and cholesterol seems to have developed despite the fact that there is as yet no conclusive evidence that people can voluntarily decrease their risks of heart attacks by changing their diets.” Nevertheless, the LRC-PPT and MRFIT were seen as significant contributions to the diet-heart hypothesis and reflect the commitment on the part of research funders to find this missing evidence.

Read MorePrevention of Heart Disease: Clinical Trials at What Cost?

Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades describe the third cardinal sin of scientific research: sweeping under the rug any negative or unexpected results discovered in the process of testing a hypothesis. Negative and surprising results, they argue, are just as important to the collective advancement of science as positive outcomes. Nevertheless, published research long has reflected a positive outcome bias, and worse, non-reporting often betrays a conflict of interest or self-serving maneuver. They call for “a liberal dose of disinfecting sunlight” on the methods for research reporting and a new broom "that sweeps research back out from under the rug."

Read MoreThe Cardinal Sins of Skewed Research, Part 3: Sweeping

This 2013 paper considers the dramatic rise in the rate of retraction for published scientific research since the 1990s. The authors conclude, “The increase in retracted articles appears to reflect changes in the behavior of both authors and institutions.” They list a variety of possible factors for the increase, including a widening scope of reasons for retraction (such as plagiarism and duplicate publication), an increase in the number and proportion of retractions by authors with a single retraction, and greater scrutiny of high-profile publications.

Read MoreWhy Has The Number of Scientific Retractions Increased?

Drs. Mary Dan and Michael Eades review the practice of “racking,” one of the cardinal sins of scientific research. In this sin, so termed for its similarity to the practices of medieval inquisitors, scientific data is “tortured until it confesses” a result desired by the researcher (or the researchers’ funder). Among the data manipulations discussed are the selective practices of axis stretching—spacing intervals on a graph to result in a more pronounced visual effect—and the use of relative risk reduction to obscure actual absolute results.

Read MoreThe Cardinal Sins of Skewed Research, Part 2: Racking

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