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Read Original Story

Why to Eat Like a Greek

Rating

4 Star

Why to Eat Like a Greek

Our Review Summary

For decades, health benefits that may be derived from consuming a ‘Mediterranean diet’ have been reported on.  This remains of general interest to readers.  This story reported the results of a recent meta-analysis which pooled the results from 50 studies to examine the effect on risk factors associated with increased risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

 

Why This Matters

We wish the story had emphasized more strongly that the impact was on risk factors, not necessarily end organ endpoints.  And it could have explained that metabolic syndrome itself is not a disease.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Not applicable. There was no discussion of costs, i.e. how consumption of a ‘Mediterranean diet’ compared to more typical diets compare in terms of cost to the consumer. But we think most people would have a pretty good grasp of the general costs of the types of foods involved.  But where this becomes an issue, for example, is with what the cost of fresh fish can do to a food budget.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story reported the 31% decrease in the risk of developing ‘metabolic syndrome’.  But it is impossible for readers to know the magnitude of a 31% risk reduction – this should have been reported as an absolute change in risk.  Also  – the story should have provided some insight about how reducing the risk of this ‘precondition’ would affect individuals.

The story could have done a more complete job of reporting about the positive changes in individual risk factors, such as impact on HDL cholesterol, blood pressure, circulating glucose and insulin to enable readers to more fully gasp what was potentially impacted by adoption of this dietary regime.

Lastly – the story could have explained that metabolic syndrome itself is not a disease.

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

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  The study itself didn’t include any discussion of potential harms that could be attributable to ‘Mediterranean diet’ adherence.

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

Satisfactory

The story explained that the results of the study reported on derived from analysis of the pooled results from a group of 50 studies.  This story was much more clear on this point than the competing CNN.com story.

It would have been useful to readers to understand that these 50 studies were culled from a much larger number of studies.  The other studies were excluded because of study design or other issues.

We do appreciate that the story quoted an independent expert on some of the limitations of the findings.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

We’re going to give the story the benefit of the doubt. There wasn’t any overt disease mongering of the significance of diabetes, obesity and heart disease. The first sentence made an important point – that the diet “helps improve several risk factors” – but the emphasis could have been placed more strongly on the fact this impacted RISK FACTORS – not necessarily end-organ endpoints.  The point could also have been made that metabolic syndrome itself is not a disease.  We could have gone either way on this one.

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

Satisfactory

A quote from an independent source was included in the story commenting on the study and reflections about the benefits of a ‘Mediterranean diet’.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story did not provide any insight about how this dietary intervention compares with other approaches (exercise or drugs) for attaining the benefits suggested from the ”Mediterranean diet’.  Even a line would have helped readers think about this context.

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

Satisfactory

The story included an outline of the foods that are included in a ‘Mediterranean diet’ , enabling readers to appreciate that these foods are available in grocery stores.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story was clear that the diet reported on was not new and that the outcome from the pooled results echo previously reported observations about this diet.

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

Satisfactory

It’s clear that the story does not rely solely on a news release.

Total Score: 6 of 8 Satisfactory

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