Public Health creativity continued: do we practice what we preach, the dangers of beards and lasagna versus spaghetti!

Yes, it is back. It seemed that our last post presenting creative public health studies is still very popular, so I thought I would make a sequel!

After last’s years study on fondue, the BMJ’s Christmas issue this year reached different levels of creativity. One of my favourite papers of the isse seeks to explore the salt content in the staff canteens of salt policy makers in the Netherlands! To the delight of the salt lovers, their study showed that the salt content 18 staff canteens of salt policy makers was higher than the recommended amount.  I couldn’t find an official comments of the policy makers themselves yet…

It seems, however, that public health researchers have been creative since a long time ago! Take a look at this study from 1967, which tested bearded  men who worked at microbiological laboratories, in order to see whether their beard was responsible for carrying more dangerous microorganisms back home compared to their unbearded colleagues. The study showed that, indeed, the bearded men proved to be good hosts of toxins and microorganisms, even if they cleaned their beard with soap and water. I wonder if they ever told their wives…*

I could not help it but also include a paper on methodology, since it is one of our  main interests here in IJPH. I came across an article called “Lasagna plots: a saucy alternative to spaghetti plots”, where the authors recommend the use of a layered kind of graph (hence the lasagna bit)  to present longitudinal data, in order to face the problems that simple lines (i.e. spaghetti) might cause. Hungry already..? 😉

Let us know of other intereting/funny/creative studies you might have come across lately!

* I have come across this paper, as well as other funny health related research (and not only) at the Improbable Research website. They organise the  Ig® Nobel Prizes , which honour research that “first makes people laugh and then think”. To get an idea, see some of the winners here! For the record, our bearded lab workers won the 2010 Public Health Ig Nobel Prize!

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