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Research: Healthy diet cuts risk of Alzheimer’s

Rating

2 Star

Research: Healthy diet cuts risk of Alzheimer’s

Our Review Summary

This article provided only cursory information about a study that adds to the existing literature about dietary interventions for Alzheimers prevention. While providing a fairly complete framework for what would be included in this style diet, it did not offer a balanced view of the real potential for benefit.

The story said that said that “People who followed the diet were up to 40 percent less likely than those who largely avoided it to develop Alzheimer’s during the course of the research.” The story shouldn’t make the reader do the math to figure out the absolute risk reduction between the groups. See the importance of “absolute vs. relative risks,” explained in a link by that name on the home page under “Things You Should Know About Research Stories.”

The story didn’t explain how or if the researchers monitored adherence to the diet during the trial.

It would be useful to provide additional context (even from quotes from experts in the field) so that readers can better evaluate the evidence as they consider making dietary changes. Comparisons between benefits from dietary changes and those beneftis from other preventive strategies would also be helpful in putting this into context.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

No costs of the diet were mentioned. Does choosing such a diet cost more, less, about the same?

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

Not Satisfactory

The story didn’t explain the differing incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in the groups following different versions of a Mediterranean-style diet.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story said that 2258 people were studied, and 262 developed Alzheimer’s disease. In a separate place, it said that ” People who followed the diet were up to 40 percent less likely than those who largely avoided it to develop Alzheimer’s during the course of the research.” The story shouldn’t make the reader do the math to figure out the absolute risk reduction between the groups. See the importance of “absolute vs. relative risks,” explained in a link by that name on the home page under “Things You Should Know About Research Stories.”

Finally, the story didn’t explain how or if the researchers monitored adherence to the diet during the trial.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

There was no obvious disease mongering.

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

Satisfactory

The story explained where the research was published. It also included interview material with the lead author of that paper and with an Alzheimer’s Association spokesperson.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

This article did not mention any of the other interventions, similar to the Mediterranean-style diet, that are under investigation as potential means to protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

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

Not Satisfactory

Although the article makes it sound like the study involved a specific test diet, the study actually involved older people who self-selected their diet. A Mediterranean-style diet is something that anyone can choose. It is relatively easy for consumers to learn how to eat a Mediterranean-style diet, via the Internet or books. Though there is currently no diet that has FDA approval for the claim that it reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, this was not mentioned in the article.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

While this article was an attempt to highlight the results of a recent study, the study was not conducted in a vacuum. The idea that a Mediterranean-style diet may be associated with decreased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease is not new. Several papers have suggested that this diet might help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and there have been a few epidemiological studies that support that idea. It would be useful to put this study into context to help readers understand that these results are in line with findings from other research.

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

Not Applicable

We can’t be sure if the story relied solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 2 of 8 Satisfactory

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