Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Consumers are Seeking Reliable Nutrition Information

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An online survey last year from the American Dietetic Association asked more that 1000 adults about where they obtain diet and nutrition information.

Findings of ADA’s survey include:

  • 61 percent of adults say they have trouble, at least sometimes, finding accurate food and nutrition information on the Internet.
  • 78 percent are interested in finding new, reliable sources of online information.
  • Less than 1 percent of respondents answered “no” to the question “Do you feel that the food/nutrition information you get on the Internet is reliable and trustworthy?”

The last response is disturbing.  In the field of nutrition, the Internet is notorious for misleading the public with inaccurate and biased information.  There are countless Web sites that promise magic cures for weight loss and other health problems.  On the other hand, there are many legitimate sites and blogs that base their diet advice on sound nutrition information.

How Can You Tell if a Website/Blog is Reliable

  • Who is responsible for the site? Always note the site’s address. Extensions such as “gov” or “edu” or ”org” indicate government and university sites or scientific organizations, usually reliable information sources. As for blogs, always read About Me or other pages of information on the credentials and experience of the blog author(s).
  • Are there links with other reliable sources of information?  The links will tell you who the other experts are that the web site or blog authors think are reliable in their area of knowledge.  A word of caution, even a bogus site can link with anyone, so as to give the site legitimacy.
  • Is the site updated regularly? Nutrition information is ever changing and should reflect the latest information based on the latest research.
  • Is the site or blog selling a product or service?  Many supplement companies will report on research that only supports their latest commercial product.
  • Are there testimonials on the site?  Advice based on whether people “felt healed” or “lost weight” as a result of the information provided is not reliable.
  • Is there logic but not proof?  Many sites seem to be based on reasonable information, but is that information supported by science or published by peer-reviewed research?

As always, consumer beware.

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