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Seeds of health

Rating

2 Star

Seeds of health

Our Review Summary

This is a short piece on an experimental approach to improve management of type II diabetes.  While providing background on the dietary component studied, it failed to adequately explain that it was studied for use in addition to, not instead of, current treatments.  The study itself involved few study subjects and was of short duration, and the results have not yet been repeated.  This means that these results are entirely preliminary and even if the effect is found to be repeatable, may not be applicable to all people with type II diabetes.  The story provided so little information that it is not even possible for an interested reader to know whether or not this would be something to try on their own or talk with their doctor about.  

The story failed to inform the reader about the amount of benefit they might hope to gain with this dietary addition or about any harms that might be associated with the use of this product.  

Comments from individuals with expertise in the field might have covered the important points that were missing to enable readers to have some framework for understanding the merit of this seed for this purpose. 

On the newspaper’s website, there was no explanation of where the 278-word story came from.  Was it written by staff?  Was it from a wire service?  Was it from a news release?   

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no mention of cost.

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

Not Satisfactory

While the story did mention that the improvement seen with salba was only slightly better than that seen with wheat bran, it did not provide numbers to help readers ascertain the magnitude of benefit observed.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story did not mention any potential harms associated with the use of salba seeds, not even whether or not it tastes bad!

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

Not Satisfactory

The story provided a little bit about the evidence it was discussing.  It mentioned where the study had been published and included two of the limitations of the study, i.e. that the effect was followed for only 12 weeks, and that it worked only slightly better than wheat bran.  However – the story omitted important details about the study, namely that individuals who participated in the study were well controlled type II diabetics, and that salba or wheat bran were added in addition to their ongoing medical and lifestyle treatment of their type II diabetes.  The story also didn’t explain whether the study was randomized or if the the participants knew whether they were taking the salba or wheat bran, and that only a small number of individuals (20) actually participated in the study.

The story failed to provide information about the magnitude of benefit that was seen in this study. 

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story did not engage in overt disease mongering.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story appears to be based on a report in Diabetes Care.  There were no comments from independent experts included in this story to provide context for readers to understand the benefit that might be obtained.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The research was about the use of a plant seed as a component added to the diet of individuals with well controlled type II diabetes.  As the story neglected to describe the study population, it failed to adequately describe who this ‘treatment’ might be used for, nor did it mention other interventions that this study population might benefit from.

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

Satisfactory

The story described the availability of Salba.  

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

This use of this seed as an adjuvant for management of type II diabetes appears to be novel.

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

Not Applicable

We can’t be sure if the story relied solely or largely on a news release.  No one is quoted in the story.  A journal article is mentioned.

Total Score: 3 of 9 Satisfactory

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