Oh, how the publishers of Glamour magazine must love NBC for the free publicity.
The magazine puts seven women through a loose little experiment.
And – based on their experiences – NBC’s medical editor draws conclusions like the projection that they “will probably add about seven years to their life, based on the fact that they figured out good sleep pattern.”
So Glamour got 5.5 minutes of free publicity for its pseudo-science, promoted to the hilt by NBC’s chief medical editor.
The segment even accentuated one of the confounders – that the woman who lost 15 pounds admitted she exercised more and made dietary changes. Yet the segment wanted to attribute all of the weight loss to sleep.
Further adding to the confusion was the on-air discussion of leptin as a “magic hormone” while the on-screen graphic was displaying the name of the hormone ghrelin.
Whatever. The segment put us to…. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Cost really doesn’t apply in this case.
The benefits were presented as occurring in 100% of the individuals studied; there was a statement made that the weight loss of the 7 women in the study ranged from 6- 15 pounds.
The medical correspondent also informed the participants that they had added 7 years to their life.
It is unclear that there is actually any scientific data substantiating these claims.
Harms not really applicable in this case.
The segment clearly explained the source of this information. Glamour magazine got a group of 7 women to follow some sleep guidelines. The medical correspondent should have taken the opportunity to help viewers understand the limitations of what can be learned by simply examining the experience of 7 individuals.
This sort of ‘evidence’ does not qualify as an objective investigation of how sleep affects body weight.
In addition, the medical correspondent said that the science about the link between weight and sleep time was ‘concrete’. This is does not provide the viewer with any information about the strength of the research that has been done on this topic. The medical correspondent also added that ‘we know if you get five hours sleep, you end up adding 200 calories to your diet’ without indicating anything about what supports this contention.
63% of Americans don’t get enough sleep – says who?
There was no insight by clinicians working in the field of sleep medicine.
This segment discussed only consecutive hours of sleep. Is this the only format in which individuals can obtain adequate sleep? Are there other things an individual can do that would serve the same function as 7.5 hrs of sleep? We don’t know because the story did not explore whether there might be other options.
Would power naps add to the total?
With exercise, for example, studies have now shown that several small periods of exercise are as good as 30 consecutive minutes. But, in line with our critique overall, this segment just didn’t discuss data-driven evidence.
Availability doesn’t apply in this case.
The segment did not have any information about how long the association between sleep and weight has been under study. Was the viewer supposed to think that Glamour magazine was the first group in the world to tackle this association?
This story was based on a magazine article. It seems more like a plug for the magazine than a serious effort to communicate validated scientific information to the viewers. Not independent journalism – pretty much the same as taking news from a news release.