Filtering to Find the Facts!
This weeks blog is written by two dietetic interns at Vanderbilt University Medical Center—Katie Hamm and Ashley Jones. Katie graduated with a B.S. in Dietetics from Kansas State University and would like to work in the food industry. Ashley graduated from Samford University with a B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics and is interested in working with women and children.
We are constantly bombarded with food and nutrition advice, it’s sometimes hard to know who to trust! According to the Nutrition and You Survey: Trends 2000, the American Dietetic Association found that consumers are getting the majority of their food information from the media…i.e. television, newspaper, magazines (1). There is no doubt that there is a surplus of nutrition information out there, the question is how much of it is legit?
Take the new talk-show sensation— The Dr. Oz Show. Dr. Oz is a well-renowned doctor and surgeon with lots of medical experience under his belt. However he is quick to share nutrition information even though some of his info is not evidence-based. For example in “Dr. Oz’s 99 Second Healthy Eating Plan” he says to throw away any foods that have 4 or more grams of sugar per serving. This means that we would need to throw out our milk (even skim), yogurt, granola bars, most cereals, and all fruits. This advice seems a little off base since dairy products, fruits, and grains can be an important part of a healthy diet. Dr. Oz then goes on to recommend that people watching their weight should eat the exact same thing everyday. This goes against the USDA recommendations to eat a wide variety of foods especially fruits and vegetables (2). If you ate the same thing every day, you would be missing out on lots of important vitamins and minerals.
Recently, there was an article published in the New York Times – a seemingly credible source - that offered some absurd nutrition advice. Author ZZ Packer discusses her “successful” weight loss story. She explains how she has created food “rules” for herself to keep the weight off. Some of the rules include eating only “the french fries that touched her hamburger” and “only the crust of her pizza that her hands haven’t touched”. What message does this send to the general public and how does it help us make healthier choices? If even the NYT is publishing articles about disordered eating as a meaning for weight loss, we need to be even more aware of what we are reading.
Since there are some questionable nutrition sources out there, how can one be certain they are getting their information from a credible source? Here are some questions to ask when looking for a credible nutrition source:
- Who wrote it?
- Who is endorsing it?
- Are they trying to make money?
- Are the claims reasonable?
- Does a second opinion strengthen this claim?
In the examples above, you can see how even “trusted” sources can have extreme views. If you have questions about food and nutrition a Registered Dietitian is who you need to consult. They have the focused education and experience to back-up their advice.