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Finding reliable health and nutrition information | Community | wvnews.com – WV News

Posted: October 5, 2021 at 6:10 pm


Where do consumers get their health and nutrition information? Is it accurate?

Misinformation is a common theme among health, nutrition and other topics. Consumers use a multitude of sources for nutrition information, including healthcare professionals, friend or family member, news articles or headlines, health-focused websites and television news.

A persons age may determine where individuals search for health and nutrition information. Older Americans trust health care providers, including Registered Dietitians, as well as scientific studies to guide their health and food decisions. Many consumers reported making changes in their eating habits, such as reducing or eliminating certain foods or increasing healthy foods, after talking with a health care professional.

Consumers are more careful about information from apps, blogs, culinary professionals and food companies. Government agencies are on the border between trusted and not trusted, but research shows that trust is increasing slowly.

There are many sources that share information on nutrition and health, including pharmaceutical companies, independent professionals, foundations, government agencies, academic institutions, peer-reviewed journals, general health journals and fitness centers. It is best to seek out the credentials of the individual, organization or publication to confirm their expertise in this area.

The internet is one of the first places many people use to search for information.

However, less than 25% of internet searches for health information may provide relevant results. People tend to seek out and eventually find, information with which they agree.

Here are some red flags to look for that may trigger a concern that the information may not be science-based. Look at the credentials of the author to be sure they have expertise in this area. Identify if the website sponsor is mainly marketing and selling their products, which could be a red flag that they may only share information that promotes their products. Check to see when the information was last updated. If websites are not updated frequently, the information may not be the most relevant.

Another big red flag is to check for misspellings and poor grammar, which may indicate that it is not be a reliable resource.

Understanding internet addresses can help you to determine the type of organization providing the information. Commercial and for-profit organizations that may be selling their products will use a .com address. Federal government and sometimes state organizations will have a .gov address. Educational institutions use an .edu address. Industries in the health field and non-profit organizations use an .org address. This may help you to identify the background of the information.

Another way to learn more is to read what is listed on the website under About Us and look at the credentials of individuals on the website. Use the same guidelines for the many health-related apps that are available for phones.

Lisa McCoy is an Extension educator, specializing in Family and Consumer Sciences, for the University of Maryland Extension. She is based in Washington County. She can be reached at 301-791-1504, ext. 315, or by email at lmccoy@umd.edu.

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Finding reliable health and nutrition information | Community | wvnews.com - WV News

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