Evaluating Nutrition Information
Today nutrition information is everywhere. You read about it in newspapers
and magazines. You see it on TV. The question is how much should you believe?
Nutrition information is always changing. It changes as more is known.
There are some things you can look for to be sure the nutrition information
you see is correct.
- Check to see where the facts came from. Stories with good information
will tell you the hospital, university or government agency that the
information came from.
- If the information came from a company selling a product, it may or
may not be true.
- Look for the name of the person the information came from. You need
to know something about this person to help you decide if the information
is true. Where do they work? Where did they go to school?
- Check to see how they got the ideas in the story. Was there a research
study done? How long was the study? How many people were studied? The
more information the better.
- Is there more than one source for this information? Is there support
for this idea from other places? Has this information been reported
in a medical or nutrition journal?
Some signs of misinformation to look for:
- If a quick cure is promised
- Claims that sound too good to be true
- Ideas based on only one study
- Lists of "good" and "bad" foods
- If a product is being sold
Good sources of information are from the United States Department of
Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration, and the United
States Department of Agriculture. Information coming from government agencies
must follow rules and state facts. These are good sources of information.
Information coming from universities is good because it is usually based
If the information has been printed in a medical or nutrition journal
several experts have read it. This means several people think it is good
If you have questions about something you read or saw on TV, discuss
it with someone before you act on it. You doctor would be a good person
to talk to about information related to diseases.
Another source of information about nutrition and food is the University
of Illinois Extension. Check this
page for your local office. They can help you find someone to answer
Remember nutrition information does change, but slowly. Don't make changes
in the food you eat without reading a lot of stories about it. Also, be
sure to talk to people who know about food and nutrition.
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Prepared by: Barbara Farner, Extension Educator Nutrition
and Wellness, University of Illinois Extension Matteson Extension Center
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