Saturday, 14 July 2012

'The misleading nature of the news reporting is cause for dismay'

On 9 July, the front page of the Express lauded a 'wonder jab' that 'cuts weight in days':

The same research was also mentioned in the Mail under the headline  'Flab jab' could let you stay slim on a junk food diet by using immune system to fight weight gain.

Express hack John Geoghegan reports:

A monthly fat-busting jab could soon be used in the fight against obesity, scientists claim.

Tests have resulted in weight reductions of 10 to 20 per cent within days.

Later in the article, he mentions:

Ideally, the jab would be used along with a healthy diet to maintain weight loss.

A healthy diet? Who'd have thought?

Much of the story is made up of quotes from Dr Keith Haffer who, we're told:

led the US study for vaccination firm Braasch Biotech LLC

But, as the NHS Behind the Headlines team makes clear, Haffer:

is also the president and chief scientific officer of a company called Braasch Biotech LLC. Braasch Biotech LLC specialises in the development of human and animal vaccines. It is therefore necessary to view the findings with caution.

The Express didn't mention this explicitly, nor some of the other shortcomings in the research:

Mice who were given the vaccines experienced an initial drastic loss of weight but then gained weight over the course of six weeks – just not as quickly as the mice in the control group.

The weight loss after the first dose of vaccine was so drastic that the dose used in the second injection in the study was reduced out of concern for the mice’s health.


If the volume of vaccine given to the mice was scaled up it would be equivalent to over a litre for an average sized adult – a much greater volume than is usually used in a vaccination.

As for the Mail's headline that this jab could allow you to stay slim on a junk food diet:

A treatment that allows people to continue to eat whatever they like and not gain weight is nothing more than fantasy. Furthermore, the suggestion that people can have a jab and then eat as much junk food as they like is dangerous. A poor diet can contribute to a host of diseases, including cancer.

They conclude:

Overall, these results are not hugely encouraging, and the misleading nature of the news reporting is cause for dismay...

The media coverage of this story made the results sound much more promising than they are and failed to point out the less positive findings or the flaws in this “flab jab” research.

1 comment:

  1. It doesn't matter does it? I mean, nobody's going to change their diet because of a jab that may never materialise. Nobody would suffer if this story's wholly untrue; no damage has been done, right? It's a fascinating concept for a drug - why worry if the evidence exists or not?

    This is the top of the slippery slope that leads you into phone hacking and blagging and all the rest of it.


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