A recent study conducted by four doctors in Australia was titled “Australian team sports athletes prefer dietitians, the Internet, and nutritionists for sports nutrition information.” This study aimed to evaluate the sources used by Australian athletes that influence their decisions on nutrition.
The study is interesting on a global scale as it highlights a growing issue: How and where do people get nutritional and dietary information? The internet has given rise to many people who call themselves ‘experts’ in just about every conceivable field. Which ‘experts’ seem to get the most traction and how is this affecting public health are important to understand?
Where do Most People get Their Nutritional Information?
There are many sources of nutritional information available to people. The sources that people turn to for information may vary depending on their personal preferences, needs, and circumstances. The most common sources of nutritional information include:
Doctors, registered dietitians, and other healthcare professionals can provide personalized nutritional advice and information based on an individual’s health status and needs.
Media & Websites
Many people turn to websites, social media, and other forms of media for nutritional information, although it is important to be critical of the sources and to look for evidence-based information.
Food labels & Packaging
Nutrition information is included on food labels and packaging, providing consumers with information about the nutrient content and ingredients in foods.
Government & Non-Profit Organizations
National and local government agencies, as well as non-profit organizations, often provide nutritional information and guidance to the public through websites, publications, and other resources.
Friends & Family
Personal connections can be a source of nutritional information and advice, although it is important to consider the qualifications and expertise of the person giving the advice.
Not all of these sources of nutritional information are reliable or even evidence-based. It is important to be critical of the sources and look for reputable sources of information–something that is becoming increasingly recognized in the current social and political climates.
Getting the “Best” Nutritional Information
Optimal nutrition & diet can vary greatly from person to person. This is the main reason why people should seek out the best sources of nutritional information available to them.
The best place to get reliable and evidence-based nutritional information is from reputable sources like registered dietitians and healthcare professionals who specialize in nutrition. These professionals have received extensive training and education in the field of nutrition and can provide personalized advice based on an individual’s specific needs and health status.
Government and non-profit organizations can also be good sources of nutritional information. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide evidence-based nutritional guidelines and resources.
When looking for nutritional information online, it is very important to look for reputable sources like academic institutions, or government-supported studies. Be wary of information found on social media or websites. Social media sources often promote fad diets or make sensational claims without any scientific evidence to back them up.
Nutritional Claims to be Wary Of
Bad dietary and nutritional information shows up almost everywhere on the internet these days. From social media to advertisements on news sites, things like fad diets and bad supplements can be found just about anywhere.
There are several commonly falsified nutrition claims that people should be aware of. Many of these claims seem innocuous and will often be overlooked by consumers. Common examples include:
All Natural & 100% Natural
These claims are often used to imply that a product is healthier or more wholesome than other options, but whether something is natural doesn’t inherently mean it is healthy. Natural does mean the product is free from synthetic additives.
Fat-Free & Low-Fat
These claims are often used to imply that a product is healthier or lower in calories, but many low-fat or fat-free products contain added sugars and other ingredients that can contribute to weight gain and other health problems. And, some fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, as healthy and needed by the body. The amount of fat consumed is a key factor, not just the type, so reading the labels for ingredients on these products and understanding if they are also lower-calorie, or have included added sugars as a replacement for fats is important to consider.
No Added Sugars
This claim is often used to imply that a product is healthy or lower in calories, but many products that are marketed as “no added sugars” still contain natural sugars and other sweeteners that can contribute to weight gain and other health problems. For example, cranberries inherently have little sugar and sugar is added to cranberry juice to make it palatable. While grapes contain a lot of sugar naturally and don’t have added sugar. But, a glass of grape juice, with no added sugar, generally has more total sugar than a glass of cranberry juice, where the amount of added sugar is controlled and kept at a minimum. Studies show the body can’t tell the difference between naturally occurring sugar and added sugar, so it’s important to look at the label for the amount of total sugar in these products.
This claim is often used to imply that a product is healthier or more wholesome, but many gluten-free products are heavily processed and contain high amounts of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. And, whole wheat products may contain gluten, but they also provide fiber, which is important for supporting a healthy microbiome.
Detox or Cleanse
These claims are often used to imply that a product can help remove toxins from the body, but there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that these products are effective when taken alone. Successful approaches to detox and cleaning generally require dietary programs in which certain foods are avoided to see if a person has a sensitivity. These are best performed with a healthcare practitioner.
It is important to be critical of nutrition claims that sound too good to be true. Look for evidence-based information when making decisions about what to eat. Consulting with a registered dietitian or other healthcare professionals can help provide personalized advice and guidance without all the flashy ads and ‘amazing’ claims.
Research at Biofortis
Biofortis is dedicated to protecting consumer health throughout the world by delivering a wide range of testing and consultancy services to the food, supplement, and nutrition industries. Biofortis supports this mission in two ways—through clinical trials and sensory and consumer insights testing. We specialize in clinical research targeting foods, ingredients, and dietary supplements that affect body structures, function, and overall health. Contact us with any clinical trial or scientific consulting needs.Tags: diet, health, nutraceuticals, nutrition, research