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Dessert, Laid-Back and Legal


5 Star



Dessert, Laid-Back and Legal

Our Review Summary

The story offers good context – starting with a recollection of over-the-counter melatonin claims that were “the rage” among frequent fliers back in the ’90s.  And reminding readers that “promoters of these are appealing to people who think it’s better to do things outside of the medical establishment.”


Why This Matters

It can be a public service to do this kind of reporting when new fad products are promoted without evidence of safety or effectiveness.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?


The story includes some pricing estimates for these products.

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


The story is clear that – despite the claims made by some who stand to profit – there is no quantifiable information about benefits documented about these products.  And there’s this closing skepticism from Dr. Lewy: “he was not sure that their other purportedly sleep-inducing ingredients like valerian root work and partly because food delays rather than hastens the absorption of melatonin.”

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


The story explains that dessert makers “are marketing their products as a harmless way to promote relaxation.”

While harms are not quantified, it’s clear from the story’s discussions about regulatory questions why that’s impossible to do right now. The harms mentioned are largely hypothetical in that there isn’t good evidence documenting these problems.

But the story does a good job in painting, with broad strokes, what might go wrong if one uses these products.

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


The story shows how evidence is elusive, partially due to the lack of regulatory clarity about the products in question.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No disease-mongering in this story.

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


Several independent experts – independent of the product manufacturers – were quoted.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  It isn’t possible to compare existing alternatives to these products because there is no information documenting efficacy of the products.

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


The widening availability of these products is eminently clear from the story.  And the fact that melatonin has not approved by the FDA as a food additive is explained.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The relative novelty of these products – and their spread – is clear from the story.

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


It’s clear that the story did NOT rely on a news release.

Total Score: 9 of 9 Satisfactory


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