Tell us the truth about Nutritionists

In the BMJ of 10th February 2007 p 334 Ben Goldacre makes a real point in decrying the veracity of media nutritionists.
His case is, that in their presentations the level of proof is never discussed and strong nutritional recommendations made without real evidence.
The statement “I am a nutritonist” appears to be all that is required as the basis for the claims. Papers are misquoted to suit the case that is being made. A regular claim is for some plant extract or chemical derived from plants to have anti tumour activity based on animal experiments and unproven in man. Or epidemiological studies quoted again without proof in intervention human trials. It is difficult to get water tight evidence because of the time scale but such proof is needed.
The disappointing results from the large experiments in China on protection from cancer by vitamins underlines this point even though epiemiological studies show that fruit and vegetables are protective.
Always there is a grain of science, but this is not enough. In contrast, Medical claims have to be strongly based on probability clearly supported by vigorous statistical evidence. This does not always apply to Nutrition.
Ben Goldacre places much of the media nutrition advise in the catergory of the entertainment industry,. Harsh but true.
The UK has an excellent record in registering Nutritionists who have to prove their credentials. However when any Nutritionist brings the discipline into indiscipline or ridicule then that registration should be looked at or even removed.
It is sad that Nutrition looses credibility by such activities.

Martin Eastwood

1 Comment

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