EDITORIAL: Take nutritional advice with a grain of salt


If you’re looking to get fit, lose weight or just eat better and feel healthier, there’s no shortage of places to look for advice.

In fact, it’s everywhere you turn — in your supermarket’s magazine stand, on TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and in pop-up ads and websites.

Try the low-carb diet.

Give up carbs.

Sculpt those abs.

Lose belly fat without dieting.

Turmeric is nature’s miracle.

The surprising benefits of seaweed.

Have all the protein you want.

Eat only plant-based foods.

The Keto diet. The Paleo diet. The Mediterranean diet. The raw food diet. Whole30. The Ayurvedic diet. The macrobiotic diet.

Consumers need to do their homework to ensure the advice is coming from someone with formal training in health care and/or nutrition, and based on solid scientific evidence.

Promises and claims abound as we strive to live our healthiest life.

Looking for a silver bullet? Try this nutrition regime and your life will be fabulous!

But how often do you stop to think about just who is making the recommendation? Are they qualified? And do they have an ulterior motive?

After conducting a recent survey of the 100 best-selling nutritional books in Canada, a team of medical and community health students at Dalhousie University — led by associate professor Leah Cahill — are advising buyer beware.

Consumers need to do their homework to ensure the advice is coming from someone with formal training in health care and/or nutrition, and based on solid scientific evidence.

And if the author is not only offering pointers about diet and health but is selling shakes and energy bars or pushing programs to complement their book’s message, well that’s a red flag, too.

The Dalhousie team discovered that 51.4 per cent of the bestselling nutritional books in Canada were written by people without any sort of relevant professional accreditation. One-third gave no scientific evidence to back their claims.

A whopping 80 per cent of the authors were also peddling wares related to their message — from services to supplements — which is a financial conflict of interest.

“This can be dangerous,” Cahill warns. “For example, if someone is undergoing cancer…



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