Do find yourself wondering about nutrition study headlines? They’re almost impossible to miss. One moment a study recommends eating fish or butter or (insert food here) and not long after that, another study contradicts the very thing we’ve just added to our grocery cart!
As consumers hungry for good health, it’s easy to get caught up in and sometimes discouraged by studies that promise the newest improve-your-health food. Who among us doesn’t want to feel and look better as a result of eating? With headlines promising miracle results, it seems like a win-win situation. But when those promises don’t work out – weight isn’t lost and we don’t gain more hours of restful sleep – it’s easy to get discouraged.
Rather that doubting yourself, it’s helpful to understand the research process behind the headlines so the next time a headline touts the next “IT” food, you’ll be able to decipher whether you should jump in or hold off!
“Just because you read it in the paper doesn’t mean you should change your eating habits overnight, because that’s not the way we in science typically operate,” says Dr. Michael Doyle, Director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia.
Steps for Quality Research:
- Transparency – communication that’s honest, open and easy to understand
- Reproducibility – different scientific researchers do studies that come to the same conclusion
- Meta-Analysis – contrasting and combining results from different studies and looking for differences or agreement
If these three steps cannot be successfully completed, testing will continue until multiple scientists determine the same result. Unfortunately this kind of process promises no immediate results; another reason why it’s important to take those in-your-face nutritional studies with a grain of salt until further studies are completed.
Once a study successfully meets the steps of transparency and reproducibility, the research is turned over to scientists who were not involved in the initial research for an independent evaluation. These scientists perform a meta-analysis, contrasting and combining results from different studies and looking for differences or agreement. Only after going through this process can research be considered scientifically verified.
Need some “Eat Right” suggestions?