The story discussed the impact of yoga on levels of ‘oxidative stress’. The story never clarified that the link between oxidative stress and disease is tenuous at best. Even the weight loss was not really quantified; what does “a handful of pounds” really mean?
There are many individuals managing type II diabetes with an interest in the most effective means of management. But they certainly need a lot more detailed information and context than what was provided in this story.
There was no discussion of class costs. How much do yoga classes – several times a week – cost?
The story provided much discussion about the impact of the yoga on levels of ‘oxidative stress’. Besides the fact that the link between oxidative stress and disease is tenuous at best, the story reported that those in the yoga group had a 20% reduction in oxidative stress when the study results showed that they had a 20% reduction in one marker of oxidative stress but at the same time showed reductions in two pathways form managing oxidative stress – which could be interpreted as increasing their risk from oxidative stress. Even the weight loss was not really quantified (the writer mentioned “a handful of pounds” lost).
This does not actually address what is known about any potential harms of the type of yoga reported on. The story could have mentioned that the study mentioned that there were no adverse events reported during the 3 months of yoga classes but that about 5% of those assigned to the yoga classes dropped out and were not included in the final analysis.
The story did not provide sufficient details for readers to evaluate how the study results might apply to them. And the story included only hand picked pieces of information from the study. While it is potentially exciting that the change in body weight between the groups was statistically different at 3 months, the magnitude of that change is not clinically significant. The story also didn’t explain what measures of oxidative stress were used.
The story did not engage in overt disease-mongering.
The story did not quote any independent sources.
There was no discusion about how adding other lifestyle changes in addition to the other management strategies in place affect the health of those with type II diabetes. For example, prior studies have examined the benefits of regular light exercise. A discussion of exercise alternatives and their relative benefits would have helped the readers judge the benefit of yoga in context.
The story indicated that gentle yoga classes might be found in hospitals and local community settings.
The story didn’t give any context about prior reports examining the potential for people with type II diabetes to benefit from participation in regular series of yoga classes.
We can’t be sure of the extent to which the story relied on a news release. We do know that it quoted only a single source – the lead researcher.