NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Be Wary of Nutrition Info

Be Wary of Nutrition Info


          “For good health, eat a high carbohydrate, low fat diet. No wait – you should increase the protein and fat but lower the carbohydrates . . . Or was it…”  Ever feel that nutrition messages are confusing and contradict each other?  You are not alone. 

          We don’t know what the perfect diet is. In fact, if someone tells you that they know the best way to eat, the one thing you can be sure of is that they don’t know much at all about nutrition.

          Nutrition information is everywhere! Nutrition sells. After all, everyone eats, so most people are interested in nutrition. The diet and supplement industries are both a multi- billion dollar industries. And where there’s money, the rule is caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.

          Evaluating nutrition information so that you can make good, sound judgments about nutrition advice requires a great deal of info. Nutrition advice changes as more information becomes available to help us draw conclusions. More information - and better information - leads to better advice that is closer to true reality.

          For example: We used to consider eggs a food to be avoided on a heart healthy diet because egg yolks are high in cholesterol. Recent studies, however, indicate that egg yolks do not seem to influence blood cholesterol level as much as previously thought. So the egg apparently got a bum rap for some time because of a lack of information on the true effect of egg yolk consumption on blood cholesterol.

          When evaluating information , ask the following questions:

1. What are the issues and conclusions?

2. What are the reasons?

3. What words or phrases are ambiguous?

4. What are the value conflicts and assumptions?

5. What are the descriptive assumptions?

6. Are there any fallacies in the reasoning?

7. How good is the evidence?

8. Are there rival causes?

9. Are the statistics deceptive?

10. What significant information is omitted?

11. What reasonable conclusions are possible?

          Information on the web is expanding at a mind-boggling rate. But… since anyone can put anything on the web at any time, there is a high potential for incorrect information to be presented.  A major point in evaluating information on the web is to consider the source.

          Who are the authors of the Web page? What gives them their expertise? By what authority do they write? Are the authors and their credentials clearly identified? Who is responsible for the site? Is this a commercial, governmental, personal, or academic Web site? From what country does it originate?  Do the authors stand to make a profit from their recommendations? Are they selling a product based on their recommendations?

          And whatever the current diet recommendations, it is important to remember that those nutrients work in a very complex system – the human body.


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