It was big news…and positive.
A new meta-analysis of over seventy (70) randomized clinical trials (that’s the gold standard) showed omega-3 supplements and fortified foods could significantly improve blood pressure.
If you look at the pyramid of scientific evidence, systematic reviews and meta-analyses sit at the very top. So you’d think that when faced with data from 70 randomised clinical trials, a journalist would sit up and take note.
So why is the mainstream media silent over findings that could have significant public health implications?
Because only negative news will be publicised.
Research for news on Google about results of the meta-analysis published last week in the American Journal of Hypertension turned up nothing. The BBC didn’t cover it. CNN didn’t. The New York Times didn’t. The Guardian didn’t.
It received no press coverage in Australia either.
Why might this happen?
Recently, the mainstream media was falling over itself to report on the results of that prostate cancer study last year, which was a prospective study of samples taken from men participating in the SELECT trial.
A prospective study actually has less credibility in academia than randomised controlled trial. So how did that announcement gain as much traction in the media?
What is going on here?
The answer as to why the mainstream media didn’t pick up on the blood pressure meta-analysis seems to be that it was commissioned by the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3, which in the eyes of journalists, diminishes the importance of the findings.
Good grief! Let’s just ignore that the meta-analysis represents the highest level of evidence!
Let’s ignore that it’s published in a peer-review journal!
Without doubt, there’s been a shift in the media coverage of omega-3s. Tracking these reports now shows that 80 to 90 % of readers of mainstream media, in the final three months of 2013, would have been getting negative messages.
Where there was once only good news about omega-3s, now the vast majority is bad, and newsrooms across the nation only seem interested in more negative news.
This smells in my view.
May I propose a facetious interpretation?
Pharma research funded by big pharma = reliable.
Nutrition research funded by an industry association = don’t touch.
Australian consumers aren’t that stupid! Disclose the source of the funding in the all articles and allow them to make up their minds.
Using an omega-3 supplement every day might save billions in Australian health care costs. The science is there and must be shared in an unbiased way. Maybe advertising revenue prospects alone drives the coverage?
That couldn’t happen…could it?