We’ve all seen them – articles and advertisements for miracle weight loss pills, pills to make your skin glow, supplements to make your hair grow longer, and supplements to make you live longer – they’re all over the place, but how do we know they’re trustworthy products or even if these articles contain legitimate nutrition advice?
There are a few things you can look for if you come across a suspicious nutrition article and you’re not sure what to make of it:
- If the article or ad is making any type of claim to better your health look to see if these results are published in a credible scientific journal – something like the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Clinical Nutrition or the British Journal of Nutrition. Articles that are published in journals are peer-reviewed – aka critiqued by experts, before they can be published.
- If there were scientific studies mentioned in the article, look to see if they were conducted on animals, humans, or cell culture. Not all research outcomes are translatable to the general human population, and it’s also important to look at the sample size aka how many people were in the study. This leads into the next point…
- Testimonials. If you see testimonials (“I lost 12lb in 5 days by taking this pill!!” – usually with before and after pictures), run for the hills. Testimonials don’t give any proof that the products work – you’d be amazed at what photoshop can do.
- Are they trying to sell you a product? Are there several “buy now” buttons? Are they going to give you a deal if you purchase X number of bottles? Yup, probably a scam.
- Does it say the product is NOT approved by the FDA/Health Canada? Scam city.
- Does the article have an author with legitimate credentials from a legitimate university? No, the University of Beverly Hills is not a real place.
- Does the article use an absurdly large number of buzz words/phrases? “Miracle pill,” “Pounds will fall off,” or “Detoxify.” All points to scam –> No such thing as a miracle pill (too good to be true), pounds don’t just fall off (too good to be true), you liver detoxifies your body for you (trying to sell you a product).
A good nutrition article will provide researched backed information by credible sources. It won’t be trying to sell you a product and it won’t tempt you with testimonials and promotions to buy their product. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Source and more information: Sizer, Whitney, and Piche, Nutrition Concepts and Controversies, First Canadian Ed (United States; Nelson Education Ltd., 2009)