The Internet is replete with erroneous information about what and how to eat in order to maintain health. Just as credentialed professionals can easily post, tweet, or blog nutrition information, so can those without the appropriate expertise. And since nutrition is such a hot topic, there are many social network users posting inaccurate advice. There’s a lot of misinformation being shared by nutrition wannabes or those just looking to sell their supplements, programmes or other products. With such a flood of information so readily available, it is sometimes difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Blurring the lines of credibility – What can you trust?
Before taking any advice obtained on the Internet, it is a good idea to ask the following questions:
1. Is the source recognised as creditable by its industry or profession?
2. Does the source have a history of imparting information that is balanced and unbiased?
3. Is it potentially biased due to stated or inherent affiliations?
4. Is the source externally or internally monitored to ensure the information it imparts is fair and unbiased?
5. Is it a primary or secondary source of information?
6. Identify potential conflicts of interest: is the source supported by advertising? If so, is the information imparted “advertiser friendly”?
7. Research the author: Does the author have a degree or other credentials pertaining to the subject of interest?
8. Check the date: information gathered by online search engines often lacks a date-stamp. As a result, the information may be outdated.
(These tips are taken from the May 2012 Volume 112 Number 5 JOURNAL OF THE ACADEMY OF NUTRITION AND DIETETICS 609)