Have you found yourself overwhelmed and confused at all the health news floating around on social media? Are you worried you are getting fake news? If you are, you are not alone. Everyday there are more and more articles on the latest “health research.” With so much advice being spread around, it can be hard to distinguish the real truth. One study might claim that eating carbohydrates are good for your health, the next study might claim carbohydrates should be avoided. But how do you know who to trust?
here are a few tips to help you avoid poorly reported health news.
1. What is the Source?
Are you reading your health news from a scientific website, a news reporter, or a health and fitness magazine? The news reporter can be a strong indicator of an article’s legitimacy. For example, scientific websites or journals are more likely to report accurately than popular health and fitness magazines. When it comes to nutrition related online news, WebMD, The Mayo Clinic, and Science Direct are top tier sources of reliable research and information.
2. Read the Article! Not Just the Headlines!
This simple, yet easy advice will help you keep educated. In order to know if the news is real or fake, you will need to read beyond headlines. Headlines are created to entice a reader and are limited in the amount of information they can share. If you do not take the time to understand what the content of the news says, you may be misled by fun and eye-catching titles. When it comes to nutrition and health, headlines are used to simplify larger and more complex issues. It is very common for specific scientific terminology to be generalized. although it is helpful because it allows us to make the decisions regarding which articles to read in full, it can also be very misleading.
3. Did The Test Include Humans?
Very often studies related to nutrition, fitness and health are first conducted without humans! In order to find data for on a specific topic, scientists and researchers will have to control of outside variables that might confuse their research. How do scientists do this? They often use lab rats to test theories. This research is still important and can be very exciting, but we must not forget that humans can behave and react differently.
4. What Was the Purpose of the Study?
Scientific research is often focused on a very specific purpose. Beware of headlines or articles that make broad statements about nutrition, health or fitness. A study focusing on the behaviour of a specific hunger hormone could easily be misrepresented and turned into the newest “fad diet.” Information like this may not be a good source for true health tips or advice.
5. How Many People Were in the Study?
In scientific research the more the merrier. When studies only use a small sample size or a number of people or animals being observed, they are more likely to get misinformed data. Some news articles will report findings on a sample of fewer than 25 people. Studies such as these might not have accurate data and their conclusions may not be the truth. A small sample size may have an outlier that can skew the data towards a false and fake conclusion.
Hopefully, these tips will help you next time you see an article online. If you are still feeling confused about your health and fitness I am here to help educate you and share my knowledge.