Can you guess the fake nutrition news headline?
As part of Dietitians Week and our theme of Evidence and Expertise, we asked our followers on Twitter to try to identify the fake from these four bizarre headlines:
- Eating fast-food can get you a six pack
- Eat whatever you want - but only between 9 and 5
- Are green crisps poisonous and should we avoid them?
- Eating tomatoes could damage your intestines
And the fake headline is…
Eating tomatoes could damage your intestines
Well done to those of you that guessed correctly, although most of you didn't! It wasn’t easy, was it?
While this was just a bit of fun, we think it makes a serious point. All of the different stories on nutrition and diet that feature in the media can lead to people feeling confused, as it can be difficult to decipher the fact from the fiction; particularly when so many of these headlines seem far away from reality.
It can seem like one day we are told something is good for us, and then the next that it is bad for us. Sometimes stories are based on a single study, and often wildly misrepresent what the research shows. Others are based on little or no evidence at all! Perhaps it isn’t surprising that a recent survey carried out for us by Populus showed that only 16% of those surveyed believe journalists check the reliability or quality of nutrition or diet research and advice before publishing it.
All this confusion can also lead to people following poor dietary advice. For example, it may lead to someone avoiding certain foods unnecessarily, or eating too much of foods that are not actually good for them.
This is why we urge you to think critically about the headline you read, and trust properly qualified professionals for their diet and nutrition advice. Dietitians are the only legally regulated nutrition professionals in the UK. They work from the most up-to-date, credible and thorough evidence-based, which ensures the advice they give is credible too. You can read about the significant differences between dietitians and other individuals working in food and nutrition in our leaflet that explains the roles of nutrition professionals further.
Do you want to sort the fact from the fiction, and find evidence-based diet advice?
You will be able to see a dietitian within the NHS after being referred by your GP Practice, or multi-disciplinary team. Your GP may make this referral or you may request a referral yourself. Why not contact the Dietetic Department at your local hospital to enquire whether they operate a ‘self-referral’ system. Consultations with dietitians within the NHS are free.
Alternatively, if you wish to see a dietitian who practises privately, you can search online for a dietitian near you on the Freelance Dietitians website, which is run by the BDA's Freelance Dietitian Group.
Organisations such as the Science Media Centre (http://www.sciencemediacentre.org) are also helpful in getting to the facts behind the often confusing headlines. They feature evidence-based comment from experts, including dietitians.
In the meantime, the British Dietetic Association has some great Food Fact Sheets which provide diet and nutrition tips on a variety of topics including skin health, weight loss, fad diets, healthy snacks, vegetarian diets and more: https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/home