This piece reported that use of twice daily injections of a synthesized version of the hormone leptin helped maintain weight loss in a small group of individuals who lost 10% of their body weight in the preceding 5-10 weeks by following a very low-calorie diet. There was no comparison group of people who did not receive the twice-daily injections fed a comparable number of calories following weight loss. No context was given, providing no mention of any other weight loss maintenance methods. The conclusion that this study (of an injected hormone) “suggests that the weight loss solution may eventually be a pill” is totally unsupported by anything in the original research. And it conflicts with a line that appeared just three sentences earlier in the story, which explained, “the lead investigator said the 10-week study was too short and too small to determine whether continuous leptin treatments could allow dieters to keep off their weight permanently and effortlessly.” Finally, the story did not reveal that in the study, subjects were fed a meager 800 calories a day, which is more akin to starvation than to dieting. So it makes the conclusion of the story even less relevant to dieters trying to keep weight off, which was the way the story was framed.
No mention of possible costs
for leptin; no mention of costs of other methods of weight maintenance.
The story presented as a benefit that leptin increased number of calories used during low level
activity. But it fails to mention that at higher levels of energy expenditure, this effect was not observed.
No mention of any possible
harms. What, if anything, happened after the study subjects stopped receiving leptin injections?
The piece does inform the reader that this was a study that examined too few
people and that the 10 weeks was too short a time period to determine whether continuous leptin injection was a feasible way
to keep weight off.
Weight loss is framed as starvation.
The study this piece was based on fed the study subjects 800 kcal/day which is more akin to starvation than dieting. It
makes the piece less relevant to the dieting process.
The story provided a quote only from the lead investigator of the
study; the story includes no input from any other independent source.
No mention of any other weight loss maintenance methods.
Doesn’t mention that there is no FDA approval for the use of
leptin in maintenance of weight loss.
Doesn’t mention that leptin
is a purely experimental treatment – a hormone discovered in 1969.