What to believe and what not to believe about diet in the media

What to believe

Best not to  believe, unless it can be backed up!

Recommendations which involve some effort on your part Recommendations that promise a quick fix
When the claim falls within the realms of reality. When the claim seems too good to be true
When it is claimed that more work is needed to back the findings When simplistic conclusions are drawn from a complex study
Recommendations made by pooling together all the reputable studies Recommendations based on a single study
Recommendations done on sufficient number of people to be able to carry out proper statistics Recommendations made from individual case studies only, or only a handful of people
When trials have been ‘placebo- controlled’ i.e. an effect is claimed over and above the effect which may be seen due to ‘placebo’. Recommendations based on the effect only and not on the effect over and above the placebo effect (which can be 50% in some cases)
Statements that are backed up by reputable scientific organisations Dramatic statements that are refuted by reputable scientific organisations
Studies which back up healthy eating guidelines Studies which claim that a whole food group should not be eaten by large groups of people.
Healthy eating claims which do not involve cutting out whole lists of ‘forbidden’ foods Lists of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods
Recommendations which are based on independent, unbiased scientific research Recommendations made to help sell a product
Recommendations based on peer reviewed studies (i.e. those which have had the approval of renowned experts in the field) Recommendations based on studies published without peer review
Recommendations which take into account the fact that different groups and individuals may respond differently Recommendations from studies that ignore differences among individuals or groups
Recommendations which are based on appropriate human studies, not just animal ones Recommendations based on animal studies only
Recommendations which are based on further backing up of epidemiological evidence (i.e. evidence which can be gleaned by studying large groups of people as a whole) by further more ‘controlled’ studies Recommendations which are based on epidemiological studies only, e.g. the French have less heart disease and the French also eat more snails, therefore the French have less heart disease because they eat more snails!