NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County

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Which Advice is Which?

Which Advice is Which?

Glance over any magazine rack by a check-out stand and you will see them – an abundance of articles on health, diet, nutrition, weight loss, physical fitness – all with a recommendation of what we should and should not eat.

Despite research study upon research study, we still don’t know what the perfect diet is. 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 many aspects of nutrition, we simply don’t have enough information to be certain about dietary advice.

When evaluating nutrition information a critical step is to use critical thinking,   Do read that latest article about the latest diet, but then ask yourself the following questions.

1.     What are the issues?

2.     Is the conclusion reached, related to those issues?

3.     What are the reasons for those conclusions?

4.     What words or phrases are unclear?

5.     Are there any fallacies in the reasoning?

6.     How good is the evidence?

7.     Are there rival causes?

8.     Are the statistics used deceptive, based on a very small study, based on an older study?

9.     Is any significant information is omitted?

10.   Are any other reasonable conclusions are possible?

If looking at a web page for nutrition information, consider the source. Who are the authors of the Web page? What gives them their expertise? Who is responsible for the site? Is this a commercial, governmental, personal, or academic Web site? What is the purpose of the site? Is the main purpose to inform, to persuade, or to sell you something?

Look at the details. Is the site well organized?  Is the site's text well written? Do you understand what is being said?  Are there misspelled words or examples of poor grammar?

Nutrition and health is big business.  The latest diet fad can mean big dollars for its creator.  As with other purchases, let the buyer beware and be an informed consumer – especially about your health!

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