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Evaluating Online Health and Nutrition Information

Where do you get answers for your health and nutrition questions?   Surveys show that almost 90% of respondents initially turn to online resources and websites – usually found through a popular search engine like Google.   The number of results and links can certainly be daunting, but more so which sites you can trust to provide credible, up to date, and evidence backed information.   Nutrition related information and claims on the web is abundant and quite frankly, overwhelming.   So how do you know what info to trust?  This is a question often asked by students – many future health professionals – and one that I hope they leave a nutrition course better equipped to evaluate.  Chapter 1 in our text addresses how and where to find credible sources of nutrition information and provides an activity that engages students in evaluating results from an internet search.  I was interested in this bulletin from the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Medicine that provided guidance for how to evaluate accuracy of online health information.   Along with other helpful advice on social media and health apps, they suggest asking these five questions about online sources – a good place to start and a good basis for a class discussion.   

  •     Who runs or created the site? Can you trust them?
  •     What is the site promising or offering? Do its claims seem too good to be true?
  •     When was the information written or reviewed? Is it up to date?
  •     Where does the information come from? Is it based on scientific research?
  •     Why does the site exist? Is it selling something?

 

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