How to check if online advice is credible
With social media rising in popularity, online health information is now widespread across the internet and increasing faster than ever before. While it may be tempting to believe what you read, unfortunately this area is not regulated, and claims can be thrown about without having supporting evidence.
So how can you determine whether the nutrition advice you are reading is credible?
Check out our points to consider:
The source of the information:
Check the page ‘About Us’ section and look for legitimate health organisations or official accreditation of individuals. In Australia, Accredited Practising Dietitians or Accredited Nutritionists are the only university qualified, evidence-based degrees. Be careful as the term Nutritionist is not often regulated and can be often used very loosely.
Consider the size of the evidence:
Is the information presented based on one personal opinion or properly designed studies looking at large numbers of participants? When you don’t know the scientific background, anything can be made to sound convincing with the use of big words and science sounding terms. Look for links to journal articles and other websites supporting the claims.
Are they advising you to remove a food group or certain food? Are there lots of buzz words and jargon? If it sounds too good to be true it likely is. If the product was really a ‘miracle’ or ‘magic’ or claims to heal a long list of conditions you’d have heard about it before and it wouldn’t be sold online for $29.95! Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to weight management, and it needs to be done in a realistic and manageable fashion. Yep that means it will involve hard work and good old long-term lifestyle and behaviour change!
Are they trying to sell you something?
Be cautious of testimonials from people that you do not know and treat anything asking you for money online with suspicion. Who is funding the information and for what purpose? Sometimes information can be skewed or used under the premise of promoting a business.
The bottom line is that there is no one thing that will work for everyone. You are best to seek professional, individualised and science-based advice tailored to suit you and your needs. Please chat to our Dietitians at your next appointment if you have any questions about something that you have read or need further help debunking health myths.