Barbara Quinn, MS, RD, CDE
Food and Nutrition Misinformation
Beware from whence you find nutrition information. The internet is a great tool but the accuracy of its information is not well-regulated.
The following “Ten Red Flags of Junk Science” are clues to possible encounters with food and nutrition misinformation, according to a recent position paper from American Dietetic Association (www.eatright.org):
1. Recommendations that promise a quick fix.
2. Dire warnings of danger from a single product or regimen.
3. Claims that sound too good to be true. (They often are.)
4. Simplistic conclusions drawn from a complex study. Recent findings from the Women’s Health Initiative, for exampled, prompted headlines that “Calcium supplements have no effect on bone health.” A closer look at this study found that among the women who regularly ingested the recommended 1000 milligrams of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D each day, there was a significant decrease in the incidence of hip fractures.
5. Recommendations based on a single study. Science-based recommendations are based on evidence over time that has been replicated.
6. Dramatic statements that are refuted by reputable scientific organizations.
7. Lists of “good” and “bad” foods. Diet quality is determined by how much, how often, and in what context we choose to eat certain foods.
8. Recommendations made to help sell a product. Solid science is unbiased.
9. Recommendations based on studies published without peer review. Look for studies conducted at reputable institutions by qualified researchers.
10. Recommendations from studies that ignore individual or group differences. Results from a study on male rats may have no bearing for a teenage girl, for example.
Information, warnings and recalls about questionable foods and supplements in the United States can be found at these sites:
Food and Drug Administration, www.fda.gov
Federal Trade Commission, www.ftc.gov