Media Pulling on Your Health Heartstrings?
I find that I am constantly getting questions about the "superfood of the month", or that latest and greatest diet pill that will make all your health worries fade to dust. As a professional trained in the art of reading scientific research journals and from that discerning the real implications of the findings, I wince a little bit on the inside when I know that all of these questions and concerns stem from what is passed down to the average person from the media. It's not your fault though! It took my year of graduate school e to learn how to wrangle with these published studies!
Don't get me wrong, awareness is power, even if it's just a liiittle bit off. That awareness often drives the person to look into it further, which is a positive. I'm glad that the next logical step for my friends and family is to ask me about the reality behind what they've just read about. But here are some tips for you to think about next time you're reading about new health findings in your local paper or online. And of course you can always feel free to e-mail me with specific questions or concerns!
Questions to ask yourself:
- Was the original research study published in a peer-reviewed journal? This way you know it's been looked over by experts in its respective field. This will also require that authors reveal any financial incentives or sources of funding that may have had conflicting interests.
- Was the target population similar to me? There's a big difference between research done on a small agrarian group aged fifty plus in North Dakota and what it means for a thirty-something city dweller. Think about what pieces could actually be translated in similarity to you.
- Is this totally ground-breaking and brand new? Scientific literature is a world of amassing data so one study won't break the bank. Once professionals and medical organizations start getting behind a theory you can know there is a sound body of evidence behind it.