August 17, 2014
Food And Nutrition Science Alliance Gives 10 Bits Of Advice On Junk Science
Rayshell Clapper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
We love to ignore information on health and nutrition. We want to know the latest in nutrition, but we also want to do only what is convenient for us. And in a day and age when nutrition studies flip flop from one position to another, we can easily pick and choose what nutrition information we want to follow.
Tufts University recently released information about nutrition debunking the junk advice out there. The “10 Red Flags of Junk Science” is an initiative of the Food and Nutrition Science Alliance, which is a partnership of professional nutrition science associations including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American College of Nutrition, and the American Society for Nutrition. Let’s see just what advice the 10 Red Flags of Junk Science has for those thirsty for nutrition information.
1. Recommendations that Promise a Quick Fix
The first bit of advice given is to ignore any product that promises to lose weight fast. If there are any scientific studies about the effectiveness of a product, they are usually done by the manufacturer, so there really is no unbiased proof. These quick-fix product claims are also peppered with medical jargon to further fool the consumer. The short of it is, we should not let these companies manipulate us.
2. Dire Warnings of Danger from a Single Product or Regimen
One year it is too much sugar while the next focuses on the dangers of too many carbs, but the truth is there is not one thing to blame for being overweight or unhealthy otherwise. Typically, it is a combination of products and lack of exercise. So the next time we hear about how all that fat is the culprit, we need to let that go in one ear and out the other for the most part. Yes, too much fat in our diet is unhealthy, but it will not be the sole reason for weight gain.
3. Claims that Sound too Good to Be True
If it sounds too good, then it probably is. Research and study just what the science is behind any too-good-to-be-true claims.
4. Simplistic Conclusions Drawn from a Complex Study
Though most people want the answers to be simple and black or white, the truth is that most science is very complicated and requires analytical thinking and digging in order to understand it. Anything that seems like it has the be-all-end-all answer that is so simple it seems silly probably is not trustworthy or may be flat out wrong.
5. Recommendations Based on a Single Study
We should also be wary of any recommendations that come from just a single study. Scientific method demands more than one study. As the Tufts piece points out, “The point, says [Assistant Professor Diane] McKay, is that with any nutrition study, you have to look at how it fits in with everything else that has been found to date.” We have to compare findings and understand the bigger picture, not just the fresh and new one.
6. Statements Refuted by Reputable Scientific Organizations
If a nutrition statement that seems too good to be true, too simplistic or claims to be a quick fix catches our eye, we should definitely check out what reputable scientific organizations have to say about things. Here is a list of quality government agencies and nutrition organizations:
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• Food and Drug Administration
• United States Department of Agriculture
• National Institutes of Health
• Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
• American Heart Association
• American Institute for Cancer Research
Any statements refuted by these organizations are suspect.
7. Lists of “Good” and “Bad” Foods
These lists are problematic because foods are not all good or all bad. Balance and moderation are necessary. A candy bar on rare occasion is not terrible just as a little ice cream will not kill a person. The key, though, is restraint, moderation, and balance. Indulge on occasion, but make sure to eat healthy, well-balanced meals regularly.
8. Recommendations Made to Help Sell a Product
Tufts puts it best here: “If the health article you are reading conveniently ends with a sales pitch for a supplement, or if all the studies referenced at the end of a diet book are by the person who wrote the book, your quackery alarm should go off.” This does not automatically mean the recommendations or studies are wrong, but it does mean that we should be cautious and research deeper.
9. Recommendations Based on Studies Not Peer Reviewed
In science, peer review is necessary for reliability and accuracy. Outside peer reviewers ensure that a study is honest, has well-conducted research and credible findings, and that the study and findings are significant.
10. Recommendations from Studies that Ignore Differences Among Individuals or Groups
Nutrition is not a “one size fit all” science. Nutrition is individual, so any study claiming all or nothing or making blanket statements is likely not reliable.
With all the nutrition studies, facts, and information, it is good to have some guidance on what to believe, what to research further, and what to be suspect of.
> Read the full report by Julie Flaherty of Tufts University.
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