We at Sip & Savor often blog on how scientific findings are sometimes misinterpreted by the media. Registered Dietitian Kris Sollid says one of the biggest reasons a study’s findings are misconstrued or given inordinate weight is because many reporters don’t understand that not all research is created equal.
“When reviewing the body of literature on a subject, study design is of the utmost importance in determining the quality and strength of the study,” says Sollid, director of nutrients communications at the International Food Information Council in Washington, D.C.
“The strongest evidence in the literature is found in [Randomized-Controlled Trials] RCTs and those using scientifically validated and standardized testing protocols,” he writes.
Why are RCTs important?
“RCT[s] are the strongest study designs for determining cause and effect between a dietary exposure and a health outcome,” states Dr. Joanne Slavin, a registered dietitian and professor in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Food Science and Nutrition and a former member of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in a review published in the Nutrition Journal. Basically they are considered the gold standard of evidence.
If we believe the headlines and what is shared on the Internet at face value, it’s not just confusing but it could also be harmful. For example, Americans have been told by the media that fat, cholesterol and salt were bad for their health, now we’ve learned the science behind all those claims were wrong.
So the next time you are told about the next “good for you” or “bad for you” food, ingredient or nutrient, remember not all journalists are necessarily scientists or health experts. Instead, take a little time to look into the study or the topic the news outlet is reporting on and do a little research.
To get learn more about the science behind our products, check out LetsClearItUp.org.