Who? When? Where? Why? What? Distinguishing valid nutrition information from misinforma-tion can be a difficult task. Consumers are over whelmed with food and nutrition information and unfortunately it is not always easy to distinguish accurate from misinformation.
Accurate information is the result of significant scientific agreement from studies that have withstood peer review and can be replicated. Food and nutrition misinformation consists of erroneous, incomplete, or misleading science without significant scientific basis. Misinformation may be disseminated naively or with malicious or selfserving intent.
There are three basic types of claims. There is food faddism, or unreasonable beliefs that food or food supplements may cure disease. Health fraud or the promotion of a product to improve health for financial gain, and finally misdirected claims are those that cause consumers to make incorrect inferences or generalizations about the health benefits of food.
The consequences of people receiving misinformation and believing it may affect us economically, emotionally and may even pose a potential health risk. Individuals may have a sense of security about their health; therefore, delay effective health care when it is needed. This may lead to a loss of trust in credible sources of nutrition information and erode our perception of our ability to manage a healthy lifestyle. Hence, the attitude I’ll just do what I want I can’t figure out what is true and what is not anyway. It can also lead to unnecessary financial expenditures, which can add up if one were to purchase multiple items without successful results.
Knowledge is the best protection against misinformation. Consumers need to be able to recognize nutrition misinformation before they waste money or endanger their health. If you follow the five W’s for evaluating nutrition information you will be making a first step to becoming more informed about nutrition and your health.
Who is providing the information? Is the information from a qualified professional? Have experts reviewed the information for accuracy? When was the information last updated? Nutrition science is ever changing, information should be dated and updated frequently. Where is the information coming from? If you are using the internet: “.gov” is a government site, “.edu” is an educational site – these are two types of the most trustworthy sites. “.org” is an organization and they can generally be reliable but may push their organizational views into their information. “.com” is the least reliable source depending on the integrity of the source.
Why are they giving you this information? Is it a public service or is the source trying to sell a product? When money is involved, you need to be aware that information may be biased. Finally, what is the message? Is it inline with other reliable sources or does it contain information that contradicts common knowledge and should be questioned.
We have the right to evaluate nutrition information claims. You do not have to buy a product or item immediately, if it is a valid product it will hold up to evaluation.
For other information about 4-H, financial management, nutrition, health & wellness, parenting education or to schedule a program with the Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, contact Risley, at the OSU Cooperative Extension Service in Sequoyah County at 918-775-4838 or janis. email@example.com.