The Internet can be a great resource for finding nutrition information. However, finding nutrition information that is both reliable and valid can be difficult, as Internet Web sites are not always regulated or monitored. Therefore, the accuracy of the nutrition information may be questionable and sometimes misleading. Here are some tips for determining the reliable from the unreliable Web sites to help you become well-informed consumers.
First, you want to determine who sponsors the Web site. Web sites ending in .gov or .edu are usually credible as they are sponsored by a government agency or educational center. In addition, sites ending in .org can provide sound nutrition information as they are usually sponsored by nonprofit professional organizations. Even sites ending in .com (commercial) can provide credible nutrition information. The key is to determine the author. Is the author someone unknown, or is the site written by a nationally-recognized health organization? Its a good idea to check out the authors credentials. Are they in nutrition?
Next, notice the tone of the Web site. Try to determine the angle the information is being presented. Is the Web site opinion-based, or is the information supported with cited scientific references? If the Web site is trying to sell you something, it is most likely biased information. Remember, testimonials do not replace scientific research as proof of a nutrition claim. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is not true.
Check the date on the Web site. When was the site last updated? A reliable site will be regularly updated to keep up with current information. However, just because the information is current does not necessarily mean it is accurate.
There are many great nutrition Web sites available for you to learn from.
When determining whether a nutrition Web site is valid, remember to apply the above tips and use your own common sense and good judgment. If you are still confused or have any doubt about any nutrition information, you can always consult a registered dietitian or other health care provider to help you determine if the information is accurate.
A good nutrition Web site to search for information is from the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org.