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How Can I Know Which Health Stories in the News Have the Best Information?

5/23/2009 12:00:00 AM

Tags: health

It seems I’m always reading conflicting stories in the news regarding health. How is the average layperson supposed to figure out what’s right?

This is a great question. It can be challenging (and frustrating) to determine how much attention and weight to give each week’s “new” health and nutrition news updates — and given that it’s health we’re talking about, the pressure is on to find the best information in order to make the best decisions. However, the Harvard School of Public Health just published a nice article for deciphering media stories on diet. To start with, the article suggests a few key questions to ask yourself about the article:

  1. Is the story reporting the results of a single study?
  2. How large is the study?
  3. Was the study done in animals or humans?
  4. Did the study look at real disease endpoints, such as heart disease or osteoporosis?
  5. How was diet assessed?

These alone are a good starting point, but you can find more details regarding these questions and read the full-length guide online for free on the Harvard School of Public Health.

— Aubrey Vaughn, assistant editor

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