Should You Believe the Headlines?

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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

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well.

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