Health News Review

A growing number of researchers believe that adding probiotics to the body can help everything from digestion to overall health.

Our Review Summary

This story gives a simplistic, glowing overview of the boom in probiotic – or "good bacteria" as they call it – products to aid in "everything from digestion to overall health."

No scientific evidence is discussed in the story.  

Yet the story engages in classic disease-mongering, stating that "for most of us" so-called good bacteria are "in short supply." 

And the story allows one consumer to advise the viewing audience that "the rest of us could use more in our diets,too." 

The one skeptical comment from an interviewee – "Some marketing is probably a bit ahead of the science at this point." – isn’t given the amount of emphasis or airtime as those promoting probiotics.   

Overall, the story was imbalanced, incomplete, and unhelpful.   

 

 


Criteria

Not Satisfactory

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

Although the story ends with a "buyer beware" caution, there is no discussion of how much these products cost.

Not Satisfactory

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The closest thing to any quantification of benefit in the story is a single consumer anecdote: "Health digestion, vitality, good immune resistance helps me do my job day in, day out."  And single consumer anecdotes fall far short of a standard for health stories.  What do studies show?  

Not Satisfactory

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story says that the risk of using probiotics "is low."  But there is no discussion or quantification of what those risks may be.

Not Satisfactory

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The story refers to " a growing number of researchers who believe that adding probiotics to the body can help everything from digestion to overall health."  But not one shred of evidence is given to support those claims. 

 

Not Satisfactory

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

The story says that "for most of us" so-called good bacteria are "in short supply."  Huh?  Where’s the evidence for that comment?  This is classic disease-mongering.  Now we all should be worried about not having enough "good bacteria"???  

Not Satisfactory

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The story turnes to one researcher and says that he is "among a growing number of researchers who believe that adding probiotics to the body can help everything from digestion to overall health" – in line with the predominant glowing tone of the story.  The one somewhat skeptical viewpoint from the consumer website spokesman – "Some marketing is probably a bit ahead of the science at this point." – isn’t given the amount of emphasis or airtime as those promoting probiotics and for that reason we rule this unsatisfactory. 

Not Satisfactory

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

There is no discussion of other dietary factors that can help "healthy digestion, vitality, good immune response" etc.

Satisfactory

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story explains that probiotic products are popping up everywhere.

Satisfactory

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story refers to a "growing trend" and a "dizzying array of new products."

Not Applicable

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

The story turns to one researcher and one spokesman for a consumer website, so we’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.  However, the story would have been stronger if it had even included the headline from one story on that consumer website:  "Many probiotics lack expected bacteria." 

Total Score: 2 of 9 Satisfactory


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