This was a very clean and efficient story summarizing what the evidence showed and what it didn’t.
Consumers may want to believe that supplements can’t hurt – they can only help. It’s worth it for journalists to report on studies that show that good diet and exercise works to prevent bone-thinning – but that supplements may not add any protection.
It is rare to see a story include costs of what might be viewed as inexpensive supplements, but this story included the costs – at least – of vitamin D supplements.
From a purist’s perspective, we wish the story had quantified the benefit seen from exercise. We’re told that adding supplements to the exercise program didn’t provide any extra benefit. But just what was the degree of benefit from exercise? We’re never told.
In a sense, the story was all about a finding that might help people avoid the “harm” of thinking that supplements do more for them than they actually do.
The story was very clear on what the study showed and did not show, and what the take-home ramifications were.
The story cited clear numbers and broke down categories of older women, white men and black men.
The story cites the researchers’ published findings, then turns in large part to an independent expert to evaluate the evidence.
At least the story gave some broad contex about other approaches to prevent bone-thinning:
“To build bone density, weight-bearing exercise is needed, such as running or weight-lifting, according to the NIH.
To reduce the risk of bone weakening, the NIH recommends not smoking, drinking less alcohol and exercising more.
Zaidi said that both vitamin D and calcium are extremely important for human health, so people should follow the previous vitamin D and calcium recommendations.”
The availability of calciium and vitamin D are not in question.
There was room for improvement here. The story could have done a better job of putting the new finding into the context of past research in this field.
It’s clear the story didn’t rely solely on a news release.