Accurate Nutrition Information
Chester J. Zelasko, Ph.D. | November 6, 2001

"Will a high protein diet really help me lose weight?"

"What's the easiest way for me to get fit?"

"Will this food supplement cure my problem?"

These are the questions people typically ask. Two recent surveys revealed where people turn to get their answers and how accurate those answers are. The American Dietetic Association, the largest organization of dietitians in the United States, recently published a survey on trends in nutrition (1). Almost half the people who took the survey obtained their nutrition information from television and magazines. Interestingly, only 6% got their nutrition information from the Internet. The obvious questions are which magazines do people read to get their information, and how accurate is that information.

The American Council on Science and Health, a watchdog group of independent scientists, has examined nutrition information in the public domain for almost 20 years. They recently published their latest analysis in "Nutrition Accuracy in Popular Magazines (January 1997-December 1999) (2)." The entire report is over 24 pages long, so here is a summary.

Four nutrition experts reviewed the nutrition-related articles published in the 20 highest circulation magazines that typically publish articles on nutrition. They used three criteria to evaluate 198 articles:

  • Did the articles contain accurate nutritional facts?
  • Was the presentation appropriate, without wild claims?
  • Were the recommendations given to the readers based on sound science and nutritional practices?
The most significant finding was that none of the magazines received a "Poor" rating, the first time that's happened. The authors attribute that to an emphasis on the science behind the nutrition instead of just headline-grabbing fads.

The magazines that were judged to be "Excellent" were Parents, Cooking Light, and Good Housekeeping. Judged by the criteria listed above, the articles in these magazines consistently presented nutrition information accurately and provided enough information for the reader to make an informed decision.

They also caution that because there are scores of magazines, as well as infomercials and the Internet, which present nutritional information, readers should become familiar with nutrition basics.

From Better Life Unlimited's perspective, we will add one more thing: if you read or hear something that sounds too good to be true, often times it is. Check out a multitude of resources before you decide which food supplements you want to take or which diet you're going to follow to lose weight.
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