How to Read Nutrition News
Here are some tips to keep in mind when reading any piece of nutrition news that you may find in the newspaper, online on websites, on Instagram, Facebook, newsletters, or even on food packages. All sources are not created equal and in many cases, they may not be based on quality research.
- Know the source. If you’re reading an article about research, look for a link to the primary source so you can read the summary—which is often called the “abstract”. This is important because often websites will pull out a random bit of the study since it makes for a compelling headline.
- Look at the size of the study. Impacts of nutrition is very hard to study (because you either need people to self report their intake and results or you need to control participants in a lab setting) so many nutrition studies are small. Which means they may not actually hold up to be accurate when interpreted across the population. You’ll want to look at how many people were in the study.
- Look at how long the people were followed. This can be particularly useful with weight loss studies, studies on specific ingredients, and ways of feeding kids.
- Look at whether the population of people studied is similar to you. If it was a study done on men and you’re a woman, it won’t be a good study to extrapolate to your own life.
- Try to think of what the study doesn’t show. It’s easy to see a study and think that one thing is linked to another, but it may not be at all.
For example: If a study shows that babies who are exposed to a wide variety of flavors will eat a wider variety of foods later on. But that study doesn’t actually show that the reason that the kids were eating more foods later in life was only that they were exposed to more foods. There are lots of factors such as whether the kids were forced to eat that variety of foods, what meal time dynamics were like, and more that aren’t mentioned that impact what a child may or may not eat.
We also spent a lot of time talking about Why We Eat and why kids need to be exposed to new foods repeatedly before they’re ready to try them.
Links from the Show
You can find Jenny and reach out to her for Mealtime Coaching on her website.
Read more about bottle weaning here.
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