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Read Original Story

Mediterranean diet cuts heart, diabetes risk factors

Rating

3 Star

Mediterranean diet cuts heart, diabetes risk factors

Our Review Summary

This story went beyond the results of the study to opine about obesity in general. The story was good in that it indicated that adopting this type of diet meant more than simply eating more olive oil.  But the story was devoid of data – meaningful information about what – precisely – the study showed.

And it was wrong to say the study “looked at over half a million people.”  It looked at data.  Researchers didn’t “look at” even one person.

Semantics are important.

 

Why This Matters

It’s important to be clear with readers about what has been shown to impact risk factors – intermediate endpoints that may or may not matter – and what impacts end organ endpoints – stuff that really counts.  This story didn’t do that.

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 described the health benefits associated with consumption of a ‘Mediterranean diet’  in the broadest of terms.  It was not clear from this story the extent to which improvements in the parameters mentioned would impact health or even the obesity epidemic described in the second half of the piece.

What were the data results of the meta-analysis?  That’s what supposed to be news here.

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

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  The study itself didn’t reflect on possible harms that might be associated with consumption of a ‘Mediterranean diet’.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story says that the ‘researchers looked at over half a million people.’ They didn’t “look at” ANY people.  They looked at data.  That’s misleading.

No limitations were addressed, as they were in the competing Wall Street Journal story.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

The story included data from the American Heart Association about the numbers /percentage of people who met the criteria for metabolic syndrome, and its prevalence in adolescents.  But it made an awkward and unsupported transition immediately into obesity and a “global epidemic.”  This story – as the opening sentence stated, was about “a cluster of risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.” The study was about risk factors for risk factors. It did not report on end organ disease endpoints. Metabolic syndrome is not a disease.  It’s a fine point.  It’s semantics.  But it’s an important fine point about semantics.  So we grade this unsatisfactory.

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

Satisfactory

Independent perspective provided by a past president of the American Heart Association.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story did not include information about how this dietary approach to cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk management compared with the use of medication or other dietary approaches. Other studies have compared the Mediterranean diet with a lower carb diet and others, and looked at intermediate endpoints that go along with the metabolic syndrome. This could have been addressed easily in just another line or two.

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

Satisfactory

This story opened by indicating that readers had likely heard about or even tried the ‘Mediterranean diet’.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story was clear that the ‘Mediterranean diet’ is not new.

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

Satisfactory

Does not rely solely on a news release.

Total Score: 4 of 8 Satisfactory

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