Although the story did a good job explaining the diet, the story did not differentiate between an impact on risk factors and an impact on cardiovascular disease itself.
The story also never even mentioned significant questions and uncertainties that exist about the “metabolic syndrome.” Reporting – rather than just reflecting what appeared in a journal article – would have uncovered questions about the definition of, existence of, and utility of a metabolic syndrome.
There was no discussion of how the various diets compare in cost. Diets can vary substantially in costs, and healthier diets tend to cost more than less healthy diets. The potiential impact of dietary changes on diet costs should have been mentioned.
The story fell into a trap that was partially set by the parameters of the study on which it reported. While it is clear that risk factors are improved, it is not clear what the magnitude of the benefit is. The story should have mentioned this issue outright: that the nuts diet may help lower risk factors, but it is unclear from this study how much a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease is reduced by adopting this approach.
The story mentioned that the dietary intervention did not have any impact in terms of weight loss or improving blood sugar levels.
The story did not provide the evidence from the results section of the study clearly. The study clearly shows that the Med nuts diet was successful in reducing the metabolic syndrome; however, the Med olive oil diet was NOT. This is not clearly presented in the story, indeed the story suggests (2nd paragraph) that the Med olive oil study was successful.
The story began with an accurate summary of the benefits that might be obtained, i.e. reducing risk factors rather than reducing disease related outcomes.
Later, there was some warning about the number of people estimated to have ‘Metabolic Syndrome’ which does sound a bit like disease mongering, though the story did not describe much about what, if any, the ramifications were to having ‘metabolic syndrome’.
A scientist who was not involved in this particular study and the study lead author were interviewed for this story. The story would have been improved by obtaining insight from someone outside the field of nutritional epidemiology to comment about what utility the results of the study might have for people.
The story did a good job describing the details of the diet involved in the study reported on. It failed to mention that there are other interventions (dietary, exercise, medication) that have been demonstrated to be effective for making changing in those parameters which are said to define the metabolic syndrome. The story could have mentioned other ways to reduce cardiovascular risk.
The story described the essence of the Mediterranean diet as well as the amount of added nuts used in the study reported on.
The story didn’t say anything about whether it was a novel research question to look at the mixture of nuts and the Mediterranean diet.
It does not appear that the story relied solely or largely on a news release.