NOTE TO READERS: When this project lost substantial funding at the end of 2018, I lost the ability to continue publishing criteria-driven news story reviews and PR news release reviews - once the bread-and-butter of the site going back to 2006. The 3,200 archived reviews, while still educational, are getting old and difficult for me to technically maintain on the back end of the website. So I am announcing that I plan to remove these reviews from the site by April 1, 2021. The blog and the toolkit - two of the most popular features on the site - will remain. If you wish to peruse the reviews before they disappear, please do so by the end of March 2021. After that date you may still be able to access them via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine -
Read Original Story

Weighing the options: With obesity surgery on rise, patients need to explore risks, rewards


4 Star

Weighing the options: With obesity surgery on rise, patients need to explore risks, rewards

Our Review Summary

This article does a fairly complete job of providing information on outcomes from different surgical approaches for treating morbid obesity in terms of magnitude of potential weight loss, cost, length of hospital stay, associated mortality rate, and other types of complications. But in terms of balance, it does not do a sufficient job of presenting the effects of calorie reduction on weight loss. To its credit, however, the piece mentions that no surgery will provide lasting weight loss unless there is sustained change to eating and exercise habits.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?


Table does a good job with this.

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


Table and

text disagree about weight loss for biliopancreatic diversion. Is it loss of 80% of excess weight for at least 10 years

(text) or loss of 60-80% of excess weight in a year (table)?

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

Not Satisfactory

Did not mention the source of the data used in the article.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

Because the article started by discussing weight loss in general, it should

have included information for people who are not candidates for surgery. Otherwise the story seems to frame obesity surgery

as a reasonble option for all trying to lose weight.

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


Interviewed some

clinicians involved in treating weight loss

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


Provided a reasonable overview of the treatment options; could have devoted more

attention to caloric reduction and activity increase.

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

Not Satisfactory

Did not indicate that banding and biliopancreatic diversion procedures are

not available everywhere. Implied but not explicit was the notion that vagus nerve stimulators and rimonabant were not

currently FDA approved at the time of publication.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


Available approaches are

delineated from approaches that are being tested.

Total Score: 6 of 9 Satisfactory


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