NOTE TO READERS: When this project lost substantial funding at the end of 2018, I lost the ability to continue publishing criteria-driven news story reviews and PR news release reviews - once the bread-and-butter of the site going back to 2006. The 3,200 archived reviews, while still educational, are getting old and difficult for me to technically maintain on the back end of the website. So I am announcing that I plan to remove these reviews from the site by April 1, 2021. The blog and the toolkit - two of the most popular features on the site - will remain. If you wish to peruse the reviews before they disappear, please do so by the end of March 2021. After that date you may still be able to access them via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine - https://archive.org/web/.
Read Original Story

Eggs at Breakfast May Delay Hunger

Rating

1 Star

Eggs at Breakfast May Delay Hunger

Our Review Summary

This story advances the claim that egg protein may be better than other types of protein for curbing your appetite and helping you lose weight. But like its competition at the LA Times, this story never fully explains why readers shouldn’t accept that conclusion based on this very preliminary evidence. Here’s what we would have emphasized:

  • The study was presented only as a bare-bones abstract that omits many key details about how the study was conducted.
  • The study involved a very small number of people, followed for just a couple of weeks.
  • Outcomes included lab values and the amount of food eaten at a buffet–in other words, nothing that resembles an outcome that would be meaningful to patients, like long-term weight loss.

 

Why This Matters

Our nation is struggling with a big weight problem. It is useful to know if small, attainable behavior changes — like eating eggs for breakfast instead of cereal — can help people lose weight or stop them from gaining it in the first place.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

The cost of eggs and cereal is not in question.

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

Not Satisfactory

There was no quantification of results, like hunger levels or changes in hormone levels. The story also didn’t tell us how much less participants ate at the buffet following the egg breakfast vs. cereal breakfast.  We really need such details in order to figure out if the findings are a big deal or not.

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

Not Applicable

We’ll rate this not applicable, as the potential harms of eating eggs are minimal. In just a line, though, the story could have addressed whether eating an egg a day, as participants did during this study, is safe from a heart health standpoint (eggs contain a lot of cholesterol). Most research from large cohort studies (Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow Up study) of diet have shown no increased risk of cardiovascular disease among regular egg eaters.  Nonetheless, just as it popped into our reviewers’ minds, we bet it popped into readers’ minds as well – yet wasn’t addressed.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story did a decent job of explaining how the study was conducted, and it does alert us to the fact that certain details about the design are uncertain (e.g. “It’s unclear how the eggs were prepared, how many were served, or what other foods were included in the breakfast meals.”) It also nods to the fact that the study was presented as an abstract at a conference and hasn’t yet been peer reviewed.

With that being said, the story still tilts too far in favor of the idea that “Starting your day off with an egg may help curb your appetite better than cereal” — something that this vague abstract, which presents no actual data, just doesn’t support very strongly. The story should have found a way, perhaps via an independent source, to more forcefully bat this down.

 

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

No disease mongering.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story notes that the study was funded by egg producers, but the only source quoted is the study author. This story would have benefited immensely from an independent perspective.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story doesn’t mention other approaches, besides eating eggs for breakfast, that are helpful for weight loss.  Even one additional line could have addressed this idea.

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

Not Applicable

The availability of eggs and cereal is not in question.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

This research builds upon many previous studies suggesting that protein calories may be more satiating than other types of calories. The story doesn’t mention this background.

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

Not Satisfactory

The story identifies one of the quotes as coming from a press release, but it actually seems to have come from the study abstract itself.  In either case, that’s not best journalistic practice.

Total Score: 1 of 7 Satisfactory

Comments

Please note, comments are no longer published through this website. All previously made comments are still archived and available for viewing through select posts.