Except for the headline, the story was carefully framed to avoid overstating the findings. This story is a good example of how to report on an observational meta-analysis.
We know how headlines are almost always written by someone other than the reporter. The disconnect here was clear.
Stroke is a major cause of death and disability in the aging population. We can decrease stroke risk by treating hypertension and taking aspirin. If dietary interventions decrease risk further, this is important public health information. People need to understand the context, however, because no one should rush out to buy magnesium supplements to the exclusion of other good health habits.
Not applicable. The cost of such a diet is not in question.
The story provided the absolute number of strokes observed in the analysis, and the relative risk reduction observed. With a meta-analysis it is not statistically appropriate to pool absolute risk reductions, so the way the story treated the evidence is as good as can be done (showing the relative risk reduction and an “anchor” in terms of absolute risk.)
Harms weren’t discussed, but we’re not sure there any substantial harms of a diet rich in leafy green vegetables, nuts and beans worth mentioning.
We appreciate how the story’s second sentence emphasized: “But the authors of the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, stopped short of recommending people take a daily magnesium supplement because their analysis focused on magnesium in food — and it may be another aspect of the food that is responsible for their finding.”
There was no disease mongering.
The story included one independent expert’s perspective.
We’ll give the story a satisfactory grade for emphasizing that this study could not address whether other aspects of peoples’ diets affected the findings – and that the results were consistent with dietary recommendations.
The story would have been stronger if it had mentioned the importance of hypertension control in stroke reduction – and that it may be the favorable dietary pattern that is working with these people through improved blood pressure control.
Not applicable. The availability of this kind of diet is not in question.
The story was clear that this study was an analysis of seven studies published in the past 14 years.
The story did not appear to rely on a news release.