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Weight loss from three diet drugs modest

Rating

3 Star

Weight loss from three diet drugs modest

Our Review Summary

While this was an informative story about the relative average weight loss attained with the use of three different weight loss medications, it neglected some important asepcts of the story needed for readers to understand the complete picture.  The results from the studies  need to be appreciated in the context of being best case scenarios, i.e. it included only a narrow range of subjects and then utilized the resources they could leverage to best enable them to lose weight.  In the real life setting, the average weight loss attained is likely to be somewhat less and occurence of side effects may be higher.  Adding to this that weight regain commonly occurs when the medications are stopped, it means that the health claims made for the weight loss observed in the studies is more tenuous. The costs of these drugs were not mentioned; they are major barriers to treatment and should have been discussed in detail.

Providing this framework will better enable readers to appreciate a realistic role for medications in the quest for healthy weight.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no presentation of comparative costs for the three medications mentioned in the story.

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

Not Satisfactory

The benefits of treatment in terms of average weight loss were well presented.  The benefits in terms of altered risk of heart disease and diabetes were not quantified.  The story should have discussed the evidence (or lack thereof) that these medications can improve health in the long-term. The story should have discussed weight regain issues and failure rates.

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

Satisfactory

The story did mention the more commonly documented side effects or increased risks that have been associated with the use of the various medications discussed.

While the story discussed the average weight loss observed, it did not provide estimates for the percentage of individuals taking the medication who did not report weight loss.

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

Not Satisfactory

The average weight loss attained with the use of the three medications was discussed.  Several times the story linked weight loss from the drugs with reduction in the risk of heart disease and diabetes.  But the story never explained how large was the potential heart/diabetes risk reduction.  And, on the main point of weight reduction, the story never explained whether the evidence is clear that these drugs benefit health in the long term.  The story also failed to provide a context for the weight loss maintenance; this is important because once people are no longer taking the medication, they are apt to regain the weight.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

This article was very good in its abscence of disease mongering content.

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

Satisfactory

The story appears to have made use of several scientific papers, editorials and conversations with weight loss experts that were and were not associated with the research reported on.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

Although the story was about three different medications used for weight loss, the story did not address the other treatment options that are available for obese individuals. Lifestyle treatments that include behavioral, dietary, and exercise interventions should have been mentioned as an alternate treatment and evidence should have been presented about the evidence of health effects with those alternatives. There is stronger evidence of health benefits from many lifestyle interventions than for drug therapy.

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

Satisfactory

The story was very clear about the availability of the three medications it discussed.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story was a basic presentation of some summary data on three weight loss medications.

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

Satisfactory

Because the story turned to a source who was not tied to the study, it is safe to assume it did not rely solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 6 of 10 Satisfactory

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