Today’s news brings the following announcement:
By modifying their lifestyle, including diet and exercise, people can lower their blood pressure just as effectively as with medication, according to a study.
Researchers studied the effects of adapting the Newstart Lifestyle program, which includes a vegan diet, daily outside walks, substantial quantities of water, adequate daily sleep and optional spiritual activities.
Most people will read only the headline and possibly the first few paragraphs.
Disclaimer – I personally lowered my systolic blood pressure by more than 30 points and my diastolic blood pressure by 20 points through lifestyle changes alone (different than those recommended in this study). My comments are not about whether this is effective but about the use of this study as a propaganda piece – without any useful analysis by the news media.
There is more to this news report that is important for context:
- The lead author is a professor at Andrews University, which is run by the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
- The co-authors are from the Weimar Institute, which is run by the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
- Seventh Day Adventists practice and advocate vegetarianism. They also avoid processed foods and sugar (I do this too) and practice 8 general “health principles” including spiritual power, exercise, sleep/rest, adequate water and sunlight and so on. The study supports the Adventists lifestyle recommendations.
- The Newstart Lifestyle program discussed in the paper and press release is a business run by the Weimar Institute helping adherents achieve health through recommended practices (those outlined in the study). The Weimar Institute is run by Seventh Day Adventist Church.
- These are significant conflicts of interest that are not highlighted in the news coverage of this study.
Second Disclaimer – based on personal experience I strongly agree that personal lifestyle choices can have a profound influence on health and blood pressure! If the Seventh Day Adventist Lifestyle program is right for you, by all means look in to it!
My comments are not about Seventh Day Adventists (I assume they are fine people). My comments are about “stenographer reporters” who copy press releases, enabling public relations propagandists to spin the story and control your mind. At a high level, this study comes across as a propaganda piece, defined as persuading the target to adopt someone’s agenda. The press release makes effective use of Appeal to Authority arguments, notably a university and an Institute affiliation, and linking to similar ideas from the American Heart Association and the Mayo Clinic.
This item is a wonderful example of how studies are presented by public relations (a.k.a. propaganda experts) to persuade others to adopt someone’s agenda. This item also illustrates how the news media works together with propaganda experts to deliver powerful propaganda messages to you. The news media ought to be in the business of sorting spin out of the reporting and disclosing potential conflicts of interest of their sources – and sometimes they succeed at doing that. But far too often, they become a party and a conduit for propaganda messaging.