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Read Original Story

Fat Hormone May Trick the Body to Help It Keep Extra Pounds Off

Rating

1 Star

Fat Hormone May Trick the Body to Help It Keep Extra Pounds Off

Our Review Summary

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.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

No mention of possible costs

for leptin; no mention of costs of other methods of weight maintenance.

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

Not Satisfactory

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.

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

Not Satisfactory

No mention of any possible

harms. What, if anything, happened after the study subjects stopped receiving leptin injections?

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

Satisfactory

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.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

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.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story provided a quote only from the lead investigator of the

study; the story includes no input from any other independent source.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

No mention of any other weight loss maintenance methods.

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

Not Satisfactory

Doesn’t mention that there is no FDA approval for the use of

leptin in maintenance of weight loss.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

Doesn’t mention that leptin

is a purely experimental treatment – a hormone discovered in 1969.

Total Score: 1 of 9 Satisfactory

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