So when I took my first nutrition class back in the 1800s, one of the first things we learned was the 10 Red Flags of Junk Science.
This list is all over the web and many give credit to the Food and Nutrition Science Alliance for coming up with the list, although as far as I can tell this group no longer exists.
At any rate, I think they apply really well to fad diets so check these out and use them when you are thinking about whether a given diet or health product is right for you:
The 10 Red Flags of Bad Diets
- Recommendations that promise a quick fix. (Lose 10 pounds in the first week without diet or exercise!)
- Dire warnings of danger from a single product or regimen. (Coffee causes psychotic episodes!)
- Claims that sound too good to be true. (Change your body overnight, change your body for life!)
- Simplistic conclusions drawn from a complex scientific study. Usually findings from a complex study bring up the need for more research into certain areas brought to light by the limitations of the original study.
- Recommendations based on a single study. One study is almost never enough to draw conclusions from.
- Dramatic statements that are refuted by reputable scientific organizations. (Everyone agrees that this diet is great … but please don’t check what these guys have to say!) Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
- Lists of “good” and “bad” foods. (No pasta allowed!)
- Recommendations made to help sell a product. (Just take a pill – but not those other impure ones, only ours are pure!)
- Recommendations based on studies published without peer review. This undermines the scientific process.
- Recommendations from studies that ignore difficulties among individuals or groups. (Everybody will lose weight!)
Have you seen a product or heard about a diet recently that raises any red flags?