This broadcast merely told viewers that an un-named group of doctors had determined that most people, including infants, needed more vitamin D than they were currently getting. It didn’t tell viewers who had come to this conclusion, how the conclusion had been reached, how great the danger was, or how much benefit they might hope to gain.
There was no discussion of the cost for vitamin D supplements.
While warning us of concerns regarding many of the common chronic conditions afflicting humans that may result from inadequate consumption of vitamin D/ or exposure to sunlight – there was no information about the magnitude of the risk of the various diseases mentioned resulting from low levels of vitamin D.
This broadcast did, at least mention in passing, that there were harms associated with excessive consumption of vitamin D and so one should discuss dosing of infants with one’s pediatrician.
There was little discussion of the evidence for the claims made. The viewer was only told that ‘a leading pediatrician’s group’ had just come out with a recommendation that higher levels of vitamin D needed to be consumed.
Considering that the broadcast mentioned problems with bone development, osteoporosis, heart disease, blood pressure control, diabetes, and ‘even’ cancer – this segment could be considered to have engaged in disease mongering.
The sole interview was with a physician/editor from ‘Health Magazine’. But why was that person chosen? Why not someone from the American Academy of Pediatrics – only referred to as either "They" or "A leading pediatrician’s group"? This does not allow a viewer to gather more information from the group issuing the recommendation. The broadcast did not provide any information about the quality of the evidence leading to the conclusions presented.
In passing, exposure to sunlight, vitamin D fortified milk and orange juice, as well as dietary supplements were mentioned as means of obtaining adequate amounts of vitamin D. However, there was no discussion as to how one assesses whether one has adequate amounts of vitamin D or not.
This broadcast recommended that breast fed infants as well as other who were not either consuming adequate amounts of vitamin D or receiving sufficient sun exposure use vitamin D supplements. It was not clear from the broadcast as to whether these were available over-the-counter or would require a doctor’s prescription.
The piece accurately reflected the novelty of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation.
The broadcast did not rely exclusively on the press release from the ‘leading group of pediatricians’ as there was a clinician interviewed as part of the segment.