Are You Cyber-Savvy? 3 Ways to be Smart About Online Nutritional Information

We use the internet every day to search for information, answer questions, and find the latest and greatest health information.  The internet can be an excellent source of nutrition information and advice, but how do we know if our findings are reliable?  How can we protect ourselves from poor advice, false health claims, and the ever-growing trend of fad diets?  There are several strategies we can use when surfing the internet for information on food, nutrition, weight loss, and diets.

You can ask yourself, is the source trustworthy?

The web address can help you to determine who is providing the information:

  • .gov means it is funded by a government agency
  • .edu is the product of an educational institution
  • .org refers to non-profit organizations
  • .com and .net sites are usually paid for by a company and often promote or sell products
  • Reputable sites include information on how to contact them. You can read the “About the Site” link and determine how the site is funded, whether it be non-profit or commercial.
  • Does the website have references? Are the citations trustworthy sources?
  • Are the credentials of the author listed?

You can protect yourself:

  • Is the advice or claim backed up by scientific evidence? Do not rely on manufacturer claims when determining if a product is safe. Instead, seek out unbiased science-based research.
  • Does the claim seem too good to be true? Beware of recommendations that promise a quick fix or simple claims based on complex study.
  • Ignore non-science based testimonials supporting a product, often from celebrities or highly satisfied customers.

You can use your common sense and beware of the following:

  • Does the seller promise immediate, effortless or guaranteed results?
  • Is the website promoting an easy fix or a super cure?
  • Is it recommending a product that contains greater than the Dietary Reference Intake?
  • Does the website promote diets or products that are “natural,” or state that it will “detoxify,” “revitalize” or “purify” your body?

You  can refer to this list of trusted sites:

How do you make sure you’re getting proper nutritional information online? Was this helpful? Let us know in the comments below.

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Photo credit: Official GDC

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