Should You Believe the Headlines?


How to Make Sense of Health and Weight Loss Claims

We’ve all been there before:

  • One day, we read headlines that tell us that X is key to health and healthy weight loss and Y is the worst thing to do.
  • Then it seems almost the next day, we hear exactly the opposite.
  • Then Z pops up and throws all conclusions out the door, leaving us completely confused.

This article written by Dr. Yoni Freedhoff for US News illustrates the problem:

[quote1]The New York Times shouted “High-Protein Diet Is Linked to Heart Risks.” CBS News told us “Eating Lots of Chocolate Helps People Stay Thin, Study Finds.” WebMD warned “White Rice Linked to Diabetes Risk.” The LA Times declared “All Red Meat is Risky, A Study Finds.” And just last week, CNN asked “Is Eating Egg Yolks as Bad as Smoking?[/quote1]

[quote2]So will a low-carb diet filled with egg yolks, red meat, dark chocolate, and devoid of white rice leave you skinny and diabetes free, but with hardened arteries or worse?”[/quote2]

[div id=”callout” ]How can consumers figure this all out without having a scientist at their beck and call?[end-div]

bad science infographic

12 Ways to Spot Bad Science

This infographic from the Compound Interest blog might help.  It outlines 12 points to help you figure out whether what you’re reading or hearing at the moment has any basis in fact.

They’ll help you figure out if the methods used to conduct a study are valid, or whether it might be the media that is jumping to conclusions with sensational headlines that don’t really reflect what the study found. Unfortunately, that really happens.

Examining the Research Behind Headlines

The Compound Interest site carefully points out that just because you may find one point that applies to the research you’re examining, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily invalid. But a lot of them?

It’s not always true that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. But it’s always a good thing to investigate further when there is smoke.

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

Marsha has been a guiding force at Green Mountain at Fox Run since 1986. In addition to overseeing a professional program that helps women establish sustainable approaches to healthy living, she is a respected thought leader when it comes to managing eating, emotions and weight. She has been a voice of reason for the last three decades in helping people move away from diets, an area in which she is personally as well as professionally versed. An accomplished writer and speaker, Marsha is the author of six books, including the online course Disordered Eating in Active and Sedentary Individuals (co-authored by Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, Human Kinetics), What You Need to Know about Carbohydrates (Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics [The Academy]), What You Need to Know about Vitamin and Mineral Supplements (The Academy), and The Pregnancy Cookbook (co-authored by Donna Shields, RD, Berkeley Publishing). She has worked extensively on a national basis to educate the public about nutrition and the impact of dieting on eating behaviors, including binge eating and emotional eating. Active in many organizations helping to further the cause of health and wellness, Marsha currently serves as vice chair of the Binge Eating Disorder Association and vice president of The Center for Mindful Eating and has been active in the Association for Size Diversity and Health in support of Health at Every Size(R) principles.

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