By Sally J. Feltner, PhD, RDN
- Can You Obtain Accurate Nutrition Information on the Internet?
The Internet is loaded with nutrition information and misinformation from selling supplements to doling out diet advice. Everyone seems be a diet and nutrition “expert” and use the Internet to broadcast their often-misguided messages.
Sound nutrition advice is based on years of research. How can you tell if the web site is credible? Do not assume a slick website is a sound site.
Here are some suggestions:
Who runs the site?
Credible sites are willing to show their credentials. If you have to spend more than a few minutes trying to find out who runs it or the author of a particular article, you should click to another site.
Who pays for the site?
Websites from the government (.gov), universities (edu.) or nonprofit organizations (.org) are more reliable than many commercial sites (.com or .net) Some companies publish articles that encourage a certain nutrient that they may sell. If it sounds too good to be true – beware of the information.
What is the purpose of the site?
Look for the “About this Site” to help you understand its purpose. Obviously, selling you something is a red flag.
Where does the information come from?
Look for the author of the article or information. Does the author have any credentials or is the article the result of information from others with credible credentials. If the information comes from another source, is it clearly stated or cited.
What is the basis of the information?
Does the author provide medical facts and references? Does the website provide the opinions of other experts?
How current is the information?
Much of the Internet nutrition information is never removed or updated. It will stay there as is until someone removes it or updates it. Always check to when see when it was first published and if it is a few years old, it should be updated depending on the topic.
Does the site link to other reliable sites?
Many blog posts link to other sites that have well expressed the topic under consideration. In other words, why re-invent the wheel? If a site links to another site, it should be confident that that site meets the criteria stated in this post.
How does the site manage interaction with visitors?
Does the site invite comments? Can you find contact information about the owners or authors? Is the site easy to navigate or is it so cluttered with advertisements, it becomes difficult to read the information you are seeking?