Moskowitz, C. 11 November 2009. "Chocolate Reduces Stress, Study Finds." LiveScience. Accessed 15 November 2009.
Kochhar, S., F.J Martin, S. Rezzi, E. Peretrepat, B. Kamlage, S. Collino, E. Leibold, J. Kastler, and D.R Fay. 2009. Metabolic Effects of Dark Chocolate Consumption on Energy, Gut Microbiota, and Stress-Related Metabolism in Free-Living Subjects. Proteome Research 8: H-J. doi:0.1021/pr900607v.
The LiveScience news article states that consumption of dark chocolate lowers stress levels. This is due to ingredients in the chocolate, including antioxidants such as polyphenols, which lowers stress hormones. The study was done by taking the urine and plasma samples of the subjects who consumed a designated amount of chocolate for two weeks.
1) What specific claim(s) does the news article make about the study? That is, what did the news article say was discovered? For each claim,
indicate if the original paper actually makes that claim.
The news article makes specific claims about the study including how eating dark chocolate everyday can significantly reduce stress by lowering stress hormones. There are antioxidants in the chocolate that contribute to this lowering of stress levels. Likewise, the orginal article states that a daily consumption of 40 g of dark chocolate during a period of 2 weeks is sufficient to modify the metabolism of healthy human beings. This is because chocolate is phenol-rich, which is an antioxidant.
2) Most technical papers have a "Conclusions" section (often labeled as such). Find this section. Are the items which the original authors
highlighted as conclusions of their study discussed in the news article? Indicate "yes" or "no", giving your evidence.
No, although the authors of both the original and the news article mention the beneficial effect of consuming chocolate, the news article fails to relay the highlights of the original article. The main point of the original article is that there is a relationship between metabolic status of individuals and specific dietary patterns. However, the news article solely focuses on the dietary effect chocolate has on the metabolic status.
3) Most technical papers will describe the uncertainty around their conclusions and discoveries, often discussed in a section labeled "Discussion." Does the original paper describe the degree of confidence the scientists have in their discoveries? If so, describe this, and indicate whether or not the news article also discusses the degree of uncertainty.
Yes, the original paper describes the degree of confidence the scientists have in their discoveries. The researchers mention how overview of urine and plasma metabolite profiles illustrates the strong influence of lifestyle and genetics on individual metabolic phenotypes. Such metabolic variations make the study of the metabolic effects of dark chocolate in the subjects difficult. In contrast, the news article does not mention this degree of uncertainty. Instead, it discusses how only 30 subjects were involved in the research, so the experiment may need further research.
4) It is the job of the news reporter to make whatever item they are reporting on relevant to some larger issue or set of issues; in contrast, a technical paper is often much more focused and may not deal with broader implications of the work. Do you find examples of the reporter discussing "broader implications" not present in the original paper? If so, describe them. Additionally, if so, indicate whether you (as a reader) can see that this broader implication actually does follow from the conclusions of the study.
The news article establishes the potential benefits of this research. Not only does it describe the beneficial effect chocolate have in controlling stress, but it even mentions the previous studies that have shown how chocolate can help fight heart disease and reduce the chances of getting cancer. These results will greatly encourage the general population to consume chocolate. In contrast, the original paper did not specifically go into such implications.
5) In some technical paper the original scientists might describes previous contradictory work of previous research (often in the "Introduction"),
which they presumably consider their new work has overturned. If so, does the news article reflect that this study has resulted in the
rejection of a previous hypothesis?
The original scientists does not describe any previous contradictory work of previous research. Thus, there were no implications of how the original study overturned a previous hypothesis in the news article. Perhaps this is the first time a study like this has been performed, which is why there were no mentions of previous experiments in either of the articles.
6) Journalists very often couch science news items as "debates between equal sides", even if the weight of the evidence is not equal. Does the
news article discuss alternative hypotheses that are not mentioned in the original paper? If so, does the news article give a measure of what
degree of evidential support exists for either of the alternative models?
The news article does not mention any alternative hypotheses that aren't mentioned in the original paper. Therefore, there are no debates between equal sides.