Nutrition in the News: How to Spot the Truth and the Lies
Welcome to the year 2019 – a year with so much technology at our fingertips that we hardly know what to do with it. With smart phones in our pockets and TVs on every wall, there are many, many opportunities to be informed about nutrition. Some of the information shared through the media is helpful, such as a tornado headed your way. However, there is a lot of information that is not helpful, a waste of time, or a downright lie.
Spotting Fraud Statements about Nutrition
We are fortunate to live in an age and culture that values health more with every day that passes. The number of people who are taking their diet into consideration is growing, leading to expanding numbers of Google searches about how to eat healthy. So how do you know if the information you come across is reliable, and even true? Here are 4 clues to spotting a fraud statement and/or unreliable source about nutrition.
Is Someone Selling a Nutrition Product?
Products seem more appealing when nutrition claims are made about them. Whether or not the claim is true, consumers are more likely to invest in a product they believe will be good for their health. Be careful not to believe these claims unless you are sure the source and information is reliable.
Is it Published Somewhere other than a Peer-Reviewed Journal?
When nutrition information is published in a peer-reviewed journal it has been reviewed by other scholars for falsehoods and errors. If you are reading an article from a popular magazine at the grocery store or watching a video on YouTube about nutrition, the reliability of information is a lot shadier. When in doubt, if it has not been peer-reviewed, it is probably not reliable or true.
For Websites, does it end in .com or .net?
Websites ending in .com or .net should be reviewed carefully. Look for websites ending in .edu (indicating it is an educational institution), .gov (government institution), or .org (non-profit institution).
“Nutritionist” or “Diet Coach” What’s the Difference?
Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) must complete a bachelor’s degree, 1,200 hours of supervised practice, and complete a rigorous exam before they can earn the title of ‘Dietitian’. Some even go on to complete a master’s degree or doctoral degree. Meaning, they have gone through extensive training in order to be a nutrition expert. Additionally, they have to complete continuing education credits in order to maintain their credentials.
The title “nutritionist” or “diet counselor” are not tied to any certification, license, or education requirements. Therefore, anyone on the street can pass themselves as a nutritionist. Always look for nutrition tips from an RD/RDN/MD, they are the safest source for nutrition info.
Celebrities often make claims about nutrition, which is easy to buy-in to due to their recognition. It can also be appealing because it promises things like weight loss. However, there is almost always a hidden agenda to a nutrition promise made by somebody that is not actually a nutrition professional. Ask a Registered Dietitian if you ever have any questions. Lastly, switch your Google search to a Google Scholar search to find the research related to your question, then grab your Sherlock hat and magnifying glass—being a detective is essential with the technology today!
Michelle Yates, RD, LMNT, is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health Lakeside Hospital, specializing in the Medical/Surgical unit & the Oncology unit. She doubles as a dance instructor as well as a master’s student for Health Psychology. Her passions are to help others break free from any negative ideas of food they carry, along with opening their eyes to the joys of “everything in moderation”.