This article has been sat in my drafts for a little while now, but given the current climate, it feels appropriate to publish it now. It is very difficult to consume any kind of media now without coming into contact with headlines and articles sharing stories, claims and research in nutrition. Quite often, these headlines will often directly contradict one another, pushing people to side one way or another, or just be left in the middle feeling confused.
Journalists’ job is to pick up new research, create an eye-catching, engaging piece and to turn it around as fast as possible to be the first to break a story. However, as a consumer it can be really hard to discern an article publishing good quality work from a solid piece of research to a sensationalised piece from questionable research.
Some researchers have gone as far as to create assessment tools for health professionals to refer to when judging the quality of an article in the media. You can make your own checklist by seeing how many of the following points an article meets. The first eight especially are things we really want to see in an article to know that it is trustworthy.
In contrast, if you see any of these points, remove a tick from your mental checklist and beware:
These points are a quick summary of just one of the tools in place to evaluate nutrition and health claims in the media. An article could be written in such a way that it passes this checklist, but reports on a flawed study. The results would be incorrect, but the article would pass the test. However, to help you become more confident at sifting fact from BS, having these points in the back of your mind will give you a helping hand.
Reference: Robinson et al. 2013. Analysis of health stories in daily newspapers in the UK.
Make sure you never lose these tips, and help others to swerve misleading articles by pinning to your Pinterest boards.