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Position of the American Dietetic Association: Food and Nutrition Misinformation

        Abstract

        It is the position of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) that food and nutrition misinformation can have harmful effects on the health, well-being, and economic status of consumers. Nationally credentialed dietetics professionals working in health care, academia, public health, the media, government, and the food industry are uniquely qualified to advocate for and promote science-based nutrition information to the public, function as primary nutrition educators to health professionals, and actively correct food and nutrition misinformation. Enormous scientific advances have been made in the area of food and nutrition, leading to a fine-tuning of recommendations about healthful eating. Consumers have become increasingly aware of the nutrition–health link and reliant on nutrition information to base their decisions, and have assumed partial responsibility for changing their eating behaviors. Unfortunately, these same trends also create opportunities for food and nutrition misinformation to flourish. News reports rarely provide enough context for consumers to interpret or apply the advice given, and preliminary findings often attract unmerited and misleading attention. Effective nutrition communication must be consumer-friendly and contain sufficient context to allow consumers to consider the information and determine whether it applies to their unique health and nutritional needs. Consistent with ADA’s organizational vision that members “are the leading source of nutrition expertise,” ADA recognizes its responsibility to help consumers identify food and nutrition misinformation in the following ways: (a) ADA members should provide consumers with sound, science-based nutrition information and help them to recognize misinformation; (b) ADA members need to be the primary source of sound, science-based nutrition information for the media and to inform them when misinformation is presented; and (c) ADA members should continue to diligently work with other health care practitioners, educators, policy makers, and food and dietary supplement industry representatives to responsibly address the health and psychological, physiological, and economic effects of nutrition-related misinformation.
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