CNN article accurately outlines research the effects of added sugar intake but makes some unsupported claims
The CNN Health Article “Sugar not only makes you fat, it may make you sick” by Ben Tinker covers a 2014 research article published in JAMA Internal Medicine which covers the impacts of added sugar on increased weight gain and Cardiovascular Diseases. The survey study spans approximately 22 years (1988-2010), where 31147 individuals were surveyed for their added sugar intake and the number of cardiovascular-related mortality was gathered. The researches performed 24-hour dietary recalls with in-person meetings or over the phone. The authors state that the 24-hour dietary recalls are imperfect measurements of diet due to variation in caloric intake across a large time scale, but this was corrected and accounted for. The results showed that an increase in sugar intake significantly increased the number of cardiovascular diseases related deaths. The study also cites other papers and mentions the increasing risk of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension from an increase in added sugars.
CNN Ben Tinker’s 2014 news article (updated in 2016) covering the JAMA Internal Medicine provides the reader with a straightforward title explaining the article and the findings of the study while being cautious to not be misleading. Authors of the research paper were not directly interviewed, but the information was taken from a press release that the authors had done. The article does well to provide the reader with the perspectives of the authors, other professionals, the US government, and even the Sugar Association while not cherry-picking sources and quotes. The author does repetitively imply that sugar is “not the best for your health” multiple times, however, the studies corresponding to the claims are mentioned but not cited. The JAMA Internal Medicine paper is cited and publicly available but is mentioned within the paper and not in a designated references section. Other mentioned studies or quotes are also not linked or cited. Ben Tinker can state the information and statistics however without over-complicating the material and alienating the target audience.
In this article, Ben Tinker from CNN discusses the deteriorating consequences that sugar consumption has on health and wellbeing. In a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Quanhe Yang and colleagues discovered that among their participant cohort of US adults, most consume 10% or more of their calories from added sugar. As reported by Tinker, it was mentioned that this is well beyond the recommended intake of added sugar for a healthy diet, which is less than 10% as suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO) and less than 25% of your total calories as stated by the Institute of Medicine.
The study authors also noted that there was a significant relationship between added sugar consumption and increased risks for cardiovascular disease mortality. Tinker reports that based on the study participants who consumed between 17% to 21% of their calories from added sugar, around 38% of them presented a higher risk of cardiovascular disease mortality compared to those who consumed only 8% of their calories from added sugar. On the flip side, Tinker also reports that according to the Sugar Association, they stated that there was “a number of major flaws with this new study and the sensationalism associated with targeting sugar is fueling the media” and that natural sugars had safely been a part of our balanced diet for centuries as long as consumed in moderation.
The title of this article “Sugar not only makes you fat, it may make you sick” seems to employ the use of exaggeration, which may lead to readers taking the statement out of context and questioning the credibility of the news article. Furthermore, Tinker reports that in “recent years, sugar – moreso than fat – has been receiving the bulk of the blame for our deteriorating health” and “sugar does more damage to our bodies than we originally thought.” There was no primary evidence whatsoever presented within the article or link to another source proving the claim that sugar was the key blame for our overall decline in health. This suggests an appeal to fear fallacy, where this claim, without concrete evidence, is being used as the primary motivator to get readers to accept the idea that sugar is to blame for our poor health.
While the majority of the information from the research paper was effectively communicated and concisely summarized, the overall tone of this news article, from the title to some of the phrases mentioned earlier, suggests the use of fear mongering and sensationalist language. This may lead in an attempt to indirectly influence their audience by appealing to their emotions. All in all, this news article did present well regarding some of the major points highlighted in the research paper, however, changes to the aforementioned flaws would improve its overall quality and credibility to their readers.
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