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Study: More omega-3 fats didn’t aid heart patients


5 Star

Study: More omega-3 fats didn’t aid heart patients

Our Review Summary

One of 3 stories we reviewed on this study (Reuters and HealthDay were the others), this one did raise some interesting thoughts about why the study failed to show a difference and reported on some of the other types of foods that are now commercially fortified with omega-3 fatty acids.


Why This Matters

 Health claims in food marketing require a great deal of scrutiny.  This new data casts some doubt on some past marketing practices. We’ll see how and if that changes – and if consumer behavior and health care advice changes at all. As a quote in the Reuters story suggests, don’t hold your breath waiting for such change.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

 As the products used in the study are not commercially available, there was no mention of their presumptive costs.

(It might have been interesting to explore how fortified margarines compare in cost to those which are not.)

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


 The story indicate that there did not appear to be any advantage from the use of the fortified margarines.  However – the study actually found a suggestion of a statistical benefit in the sub-population of individuals who had had a prior heart attack and who also had diabetes.

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


 This is a correction of our originally-posted score on this criterion.  The story did, indeed, report that "there were no harmful side effects."

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


Adequate description of the study and of its possible limitations.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No overt disease mongering.

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


 The story included quotes from sources not involved in the study.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


 The story mentioned the increasing number of foods on the shelves that are fortified with omega-3 fatty acids and perhaps the results of this study will make readers question whether such fortification is actually value added.  While indicating that the people in the study were receiving optimal medical therapy, the story did not mention other possible means by which individuals who have had a heart attack can lower their chance of having another one. Even one line of such context would have been appreciated and helpful.

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


 While indicating that Unilever makes an omega-3 fortified margarine, the story didn’t mention that the margarines used in the study were specifically formulated for the study and are not commercially available.  However – there are commercially available margarines that are fortified with omega-3 fatty acids.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


 Although the story was not clear that the margarines used in the study were prepared exclusively for use in the study, it did indicate that similarly fortified products are commercially available.

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


It’s clear that the story did not rely solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 9 of 9 Satisfactory


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