Don't Trust the Media – and other news

by DavalosMcCormack on October 2, 2008

If you read something in an article that said “don’t trust the media” and you believed it would you then have to distrust it because you read it in the media and it told you not to trust them? And if you were the person who wrote it wouldn’t you have to distrust yourself? It makes my head spin. But don’t worry. There is a point to this.

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that news media coverage of medical stories often failed to mention some pretty important points, ones that could impact whether you believed not just the articles but the research itself.

The researchers looked at 306 articles, 175 in newspapers and 131 online. They found that in articles that reported on studies where drug companies helped fund the research, 42 percent never mentioned the fact that pharmaceutical dollars were involved. Now, just because a drug company helped pay for at least part of the study doesn’t mean the results are bogus or biased, but a good reporter should mention that fact so you can at least consider the possibility.

When I was a journalist our newsroom had a basic mantra on the critical importance of checking every fact; ‘if your mother says she loves you, check it out’. It’s good advice. Except in my case, I know my mum wouldn’t lie to me.

Asthma Medication Works Less Well in Obese Patients

That headline tells you pretty nearly everything you need to know about this study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 

The researchers found that glucocorticoids, the primary controlling medication for asthma, are 40 percent less effective in people who are obese than in people with asthma who are not obese. 40 percent! That’s a huge number.

If you consider that more than 20 million Americans have asthma and a goodly proportion of them are either overweight or obese then it is clear that millions of people are not getting the health benefits they could and should be getting from their medication.

Proper control of asthma is more than just a matter of quality of life, it’s a matter of life and death. Every year more than 4,000 Americans die from asthma.

Of course being overweight and having asthma is a double whammy. Because you suffer from shortness of breath it’s harder to exercise or lead an active lifestyle, and without that activity it’s hard to lose the weight. All the more reason to avoid being obese in the first place.

Dieters Put on Most Weight During Pregnancy 

Life is filled with ironies. A study in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that women who were on a diet before they got pregnant ended up putting on a lot more weight than women who were not dieting pre-pregnancy.

The researchers surveyed more than 1,200 women about their eating and lifestyle habits. Those who were trying to lose weight before pregnancy were far more likely to pack on a lot of extra pounds once they conceived, than those who were not dieting. In fact, the pre-pregnancy dieters put on so much weight it increased their risk for a variety of health issues such as preeclampsia and c-sections.

The researchers say that while these women exercised restraint before getting pregnancy, once they learned a baby was on the way it was as if they decided they were “eating for two” and went at the buffet table with a vengence.

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