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Read Original Story

Baking Soda Boosts Athletic Performance

Rating

0 Star

Baking Soda Boosts Athletic Performance

Our Review Summary

This story is based on a study of just nine skilled college tennis players. The story provides no context, no data, no comparisons with related research. 

 

Why This Matters

In the firehose of health information that floods the American public every day, this story about trying to prevent "fatigue-induced decline" in just 9 elite tennis players just doesn’t seem to be worth the time or attention.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  The cost of baking soda isn’t in question.

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

Not Satisfactory

There were no detailed results reported in the story – none of the data that would explain whether blood tests or accuracy/velocity testing was significantly different between the treated and non-treated groups.  So readers are given no sense of the scope of potential benefit. 

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

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion of potential harms.

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

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion of the limitations of drawing conclusions from a study of just nine people. Or of two little trials a week apart.

The story didn’t discuss any of the limitations that the researchers themselves described: 

  • The content of simulated match was not completely consistent with real tennis matches.
  • The duration of the simulated match was a little shorter than most of the real ones.
  • The psychological strain in real matches was also absent in the simulated match.
  • participants were in free living style between the 2 trials. Although they were asked to maintain their physical activityand dietary patterns before each trial, we could not rule out the possibility that they may not fully comply with the instructions.
  • the participants’ motivation to perform with their best effort, including hitting the ball with the maximal power, may
    also affect the results.
     

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

Is "fatigue-induced decline" in tennis really something that requires treatment? Does a study in 21-year old Division I college tennis players have any direct relevance to the rest of the population?  None of these questions were explored. 

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

Not Satisfactory

No independent perspective appeared in the story.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

There was not even a line about other fatigue-fighting measures in tennis players, and no comparison of these new small-study results with anything else.  It’s just an island of isolated information from an extremely small study.  Why this is newsworthy is beyond us.

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

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  The availability of baking soda isn’t in question.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

The story didn’t place this new, tiny study into the context of other research that’s been done on sodium bicarbonate and athletic performance.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story lifted its researcher quotes from a news release.

Total Score: 0 of 8 Satisfactory

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