Webinar update: I have great news – A wonderful group joined me for the webinar this past Monday. They asked great questions and we made it through all the information!
Not so great news – the recording didn’t work!! I did get a month free of the software, but it’s not available for replay. So I decided the only way to make it up to you is to offer it AGAIN! Join me for the second time around – Fact or Fiction: Debunking Cancer Nutrition Myths.
This is something I have to deal with daily. Questions from the community and from cancer survivors regarding something the read, heard, saw on the news or someone told them. When it comes to nutrition, everyone seems to think they’re an expert. Even well intentioned individuals can be the source of misinformation.
I could give you story after story of questions I get, but let’s just pick a few to highlight.
Let’s look at a few examples:
Food Babe: You may have heard of Food Babe as the one who petitioned Subway regarding their bread ingredients, and Kraft regarding the additives in their “cheese”. She makes a lot of claims and presents herself as an expert. Here’s an interesting blog post from a farmer in Minnesota. I saw the link via a Dietitian Farmer on Facebook and thought it was very well done.
“Vani Hari is better known as the Food Babe. She started her online company FoodBabe.com in 2011 to “spread information about what is really in the American food supply.” Her background? Based on what she writes, you would think her college degree is in nutrition, food or health. But no, she is a computer programmer.”
Read more here: 10 Things I Wish the Food Babe Knew
Dr. Mercola: Joseph Mercola operates a very successful business via his website. Wikipedia has a nice overview, if you want to know more about it. He has practiced in an office in Chicago in the past but no longer practices. However, he makes a LOT of money through his marketing techniques and questionable “science.”
Per quackwatch.org: “Joseph Mercola is a D.O., in Illinois, and operates one of the internet’s largest and most trafficked health
information sites. In 2012, Mercola stated that his site had over
300,000 pages and is visited by “millions of people each day” and that
his electronic newsletter has close 1,500,000 subscribers. The site
vigorously promotes and sells dietary supplements, many of which bear
Although there are plenty of sources opposing the information Dr. Mercola is spreading… that doesn’t stop Dr. Oz from inviting him on his show (or it doesn’t stop Dr. Oz allowing Dr. Mercola to pay him to be on his show, I’m not sure which it is!). Which brings me to my next questionable source of information…
Dr. Oz: Holy Moly. If you’re not already clued in… Dr. Oz is pretty much a reliable source of crazy talk and sales. I honestly used to think he made some sense, back when he was on Oprah once a week. But once he switched to be his own show EVERY DAY for an HOUR, he seems to have run out of evidence based things to say, therefore he has decided to fill up his time with a bunch of crazy talk. And if you didn’t know, he was questioned by the US Senate this summer based on his questionable claims that he makes as he sells products (that are unproven) right and left.
Places to check on credibility:
One of my favorite websites to check for credibility regarding health related issues is www.quackwatch.org. They do a very thorough job of searching backgrounds, any citations and also debunking any misinformation that the person might be giving. Of course snopes.com is a great place too, for those urban legend type emails or facebook posts.
In addition to checking the facts of the information you hear, you will want to double check the credentials of the person giving it to you.
First off – do they have a degree or credential in the area of study that they are advising on?
For nutrition, there are two credentials that are accepted under the licensing laws, which depends on the state. Registered Dietitian credentials (RD or RDN) are accepted in all states and Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) is accepted in 12 states.
To become a Registered Dietitian, you must complete a course load approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). You also must complete an internship approved by the same body and also pass an exam.
In order to become a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition (CSO), you must document 2,000 practice hours in the area of oncology and pass an additional exam. This is a relatively new credential, as I was part of the first group to take the exam in 2008. I have to retake the exam every 5 years to maintain the certification. I took it again in 2013 so I’m good until 2018! Phew. 🙂
In addition, I have completed a Master’s in Public Health Nutrition from UNC- Chapel Hill. I’m proud to say that US News and World Report has ranked UNC as the #2 School of Public Health in the nation. Woot woot!
The standards to become a CNS include an advanced degree in
nutrition, regionally accredited nutrition education, 1,000 hours of
supervised experience, and a rigorous exam in science-based clinical
nutrition. I actually don’t know many people with this credential, I think it might be more popular in other parts of the country.
Is the Degree or Credential Legitimate?
Another layer of challenge when evaluating the person giving you information is whether the degree or credential came from a legitimate agency. I explained above the credentialing body for RD’s and CNS’s. These credentials require degrees from a legitimate college or university.
However, it is known that some “colleges” have created their own accrediting agency and then proclaim themselves “accredited.” Therefore, you can’t always trust the college info a school provides about itself.
To find out if an agency is legitimate, consult the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), a private agency that accredits the accreditation agencies (www.chea.org). Some “Institutes” or “Colleges” will offer credentials or degrees for a weekend or semester and are mainly just a profit making business, not an educational institution. Better check to be safe!
Use Common Sense!!!
Ok – the last line of defense when evaluating information is your own common sense. If it sounds a little wacky… it might be. If it sounds too good to be true… it probably is! And if you can’t find any information to back the person up from a legitimate and/or evidence based and unbiased source… steer clear!!
Just because someone is popular, or made a lot of money, or has done something a long time does NOT mean they know what they’re doing. But it usually means that they’re making a lot of money!!
It’s up to you to protect yourself from false information. Please be cautious.
Hope you can Join me on Monday!