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Read Original Story

More help in the battle of the bulge

Rating

3 Star

More help in the battle of the bulge

Our Review Summary

This is a very brief story (156 words), with many of the problems inherent in such briefs. It's about about an over-the-counter product, due out this summer, to help people with weight loss.  It is a half strength version of orlistat, a prescription drug, and though the story implies that the weight loss with the over-the-counter version will be about the same as the prescription strength this is not supported by the scientific evidence.  And no source of data to support that projection is given.

Although the story briefly mentioned clinical trials involving this product and reported on the increased weight loss when using this product in addition to a diet and exercise program, there do not appear to be any studies published in peer reviewed journals.  Without that, it is impossible to weigh the strength of the evidence, something the story should have pointed out.

In addition, the story did not completely describe the side-effects associated with the use of this product.

Overall, no sources were cited.  Criticisms of the over-the-counter use of orlistat are easy to find. 

 

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story mentioned that this product will cost $50 for a 30-day supply.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story mentioned a 5-10 pound increased weight loss over a period of six months with the use of this product.  But no source is given for that projection.  Is that based on use of the prescription-strength version of orlistat?  If not, what is the source? 

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

Not Satisfactory

The story included a parenthetic thought about possible side effects if a low-fat diet isn't followed. But unpleasant side-effects may be experienced even with consumption of a low-fat diet.

The FDA also advises that because nutrients may be lost, people using alli are recommended to take a multivitamin.  

 

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

Not Satisfactory

Although the story mentioned clinical trials involving this product and reported on the increased weight loss when using this product in addition to a diet and exercise program, there do not appear to be any studies published in peer reviewed journals.  Without that, it is impossible to weigh the strength of the evidence, something the story should have pointed out. 

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

This story did not engage in disease mongering.

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

Not Satisfactory

No sources were cited.  Criticisms of the over-the-counter use of orlistat are easy to find. 

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

There is no mention of other treatment options for weight loss.

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

Satisfactory

The story mentioned that the product is expected to be available this summer.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story was clear that alli is an over-the-counter strength of orlistat,a medication that has previously been available by prescription only.

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

Not Applicable

There is no clear source for the material presented in this story; it is therefore not possible to eliminate the possibility that it was based exclusively on a press release.

Total Score: 4 of 9 Satisfactory

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