Who Can You Trust with Your Health?
Questions You Need To Ask
Who Owns The Website?
This is your first clue whether you can trust the information. Is ownership of the site easy to find and clear? Who or what is responsible for the information? Is the site run by a university, government agency or a trained medical and/or psychological professional?
Who wrote the material on the site?
Are the individual(s) clearly identified? Do they have verifiable professional credentials in the field they are discussing and/or disseminating information in? If they are talking about nutrition are they a Registered Dietitian? A Medical Doctor if discussing diseases or illness? A good rule of thumb is to follow the advice of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: “Health related websites should give information about medical credentials of the people who prepare or review the material on the website.” You should get real medical information, not myths or opinions of unqualified copywriters.
What’s In A Title?
A lot of people on the net selling weight loss, wellness and other “health” services call themselves “nutritionists.” It’s important to understand that “nutritionists” are not Registered Dietitians. In fact, while a so-called “nutritionist” may use that title without any education or training (in other words it’s meaningless), a Dietitian must have at least a Bachelor’s Degree in dietetics, nutrition or nutrition science (most have Master’s Degrees, hence the designation, M.S. Master of Science) and then must pass a Registration exam (R.D., Registered Dietitian). RDs are required to keep up-to-date through mandatory continuing education courses and be registered in their state. Please keep this in mind when considering health information provided by someone calling themselves a “nutritionist.” Ask about their specific training in this scientific field, their patients and their practice. Are they reluctant to share information on their professional credentials and medical experience?
Is the scientific information up to date with citations?
While scientific research is always changing citations help to insure that the information on the site is fact, not fiction. A citation shows that the information presented is based on either published research or a medical authority. If someone is making scientific, nutritional or dietary claims without citing the source of their information proceed with caution, if at all. Reliable nutrition, medical and scientific information is based on current, verifiable research. Does the website or person you are considering update their information often to represent the latest knowledge? Is their information original or are they cutting and pasting material taken from other web sites?
What about claims that the information is backed by ‘Scientific Research?”
The National Institute of Health suggests you should not accept “scientific claims” at face value. Ask questions: Was the study on animals or people? Was the study on people like yourself or teenagers? Was it a randomized, controlled, clinical trial? Who conducted the research: a university, medical school, the government or a private person? Who paid for the research? Who is reporting the results: the scientists who ran the study or someone else?
How can I check if information is accurate?
When searching the web for any health, nutrition, medical or scientific information try adding gov, org or edu to your search term. This will result in bringing organizations like the Center for Disease Control, Nutrition.gov, and Womenshealth.gov etc., to the top of your search results. Compare the information provided by these organizations to sites and practitioners you are considering.
Please remember, whether you choose to join this site or not; the best, unbiased and honest nutritional, health and medical information will come from highly trained, licensed, medical professionals: Dietitians, Doctors and Psychologists. Don’t sell yourself short. You deserve the best. Demand it.