Healthy Living: Clues of Quackery ( Publisher's URL )

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Healthy Living: Clues of Quackery
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Fact Sheet
Bobroff, Linda B.
University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, EDIS
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Gainesville, Fla.
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Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Melanie Mercer.
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"First published: December 1999. Latest Revision: June 2008."
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University of Florida Institutional Repository
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University of Florida
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FCS8583 1. La versin en espaol de este documento es Vida Saludable: Indicios de Fraude (FCS8583span). This document is FCS8583, one in a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, University of Florida, Gainesv ille, FL 32611. First published: December 1999. Latest Revision: June 2008. Please visit the EDIS Website at 2. Linda B. Bobroff, Ph.D., RD, LD/N., professor ; Luisa Oliver-Cordero, former ENAFS Nutrition Educator/Trainer; Department of Family, Youth, and Co mmunity Sciences, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville FL 3261 1. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Eq ual Employment Opportunity-Affirm ative Action Employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and in stitutions that function without regard to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, marita l status, national origin, political opinions, or affiliation. For information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office. Florida Cooperative Extension Service/I nstitute of Food and Agricultural Sciences/University of Florida/Larry R. Arrington, Dean. Healthy Living: Clues of Quackery1 Linda B. Bobroff and Luisa Oliver-Cordero2 How Common is Quackery? Quackery is a multimi llion dollar business in the United States. Older adults often are targets for quackery, but you can avoid being a victim. Always evaluate nutrition and health information or recommendations before you take action based on them. Food Faddism: a practice based on an exaggerated belief in the health benefits of certain foods. Quackery: promotion of certain practices, with misleading health claims, for profit Are There Clues to Help Me Recognize Quackery? Yes! Here are seven key questions to ask about nutrition and health information. The answers will give you CLUES to help you spot quackery. Is the author/speaker qualified to provide nutrition or health information? Check to be sure they have a nutrition or medical degree. If they dont, thats CLUE #1. Dietitians (RD or LD/N) and nutritionists with advanced degrees have training in nutrition. Physicians (MD) are health experts. Be aware that Dr. in front of someone's name could just mean that they have a Ph.D. in Math! Are claims based only on testimonials, especially by famous persons? Information from persons who lack formal nutrition or health education, like TV personalities or professional athletes, may not be reliable. The spokespersons generally are paid to promote products. They may or may not know anything about their effectiveness.


Healthy Living: Clues of Quackery page 2 June 2008 Is the claim supported by more than one scientific study? Claims must be supported by scientific studies. Specific information about the studies should be provided. If its not, thats another CLUE of quackery. Who tested the product or conducted the research? A reliable research organization does not sell any product that it is studying. Good studies are most often done by government health agencies, universities, or medical schools and published in scientif ic journals. If it is not clear where the research was done, thats a CLUE for possible quackery! Does it sound too good to be true? To promote products, the media or salespersons may say that a product: is quick and painless, is natural, can cure a variety of conditions, is based on an ancient remedy, is a miracle cure or breakthrough. Claims like these make products sound too good to be true, a strong CLUE for quackery. What abou t the claim natural ? Natural does not always mean a product is safe. Think about salmonellaits natural, but not safe! Is elimination of one or more food groups recommended? This could be a big CLUE. For good health, we need a variety of nutrients. We get these nutrients from foods we eat. Foods from different food groups give us different nutrients. If you eliminate food groups from your diet, you may develop health problems. Is there a specific food or supplement for sale? Information provided as a part of a sales pitch is not reliable. Do not take advice from supplement salespersons or even friends, if they are trying to sell you the product they are promoting. Where can I find reliable information? Although there is much misinformation out there, you also can find reliable information. Check out the following resources: At your local senior center or Extension office, ask for these University of Florida fact sheets: Healthy Living: Reliable Sources of Nutrition and Health Information, and Reliable Web Sites for Consumers Contact a Registered Dietitian (RD) or state licensed dietitian/nutritionist (LD/N), your county Extension offi ce, or your Area Agency on Aging. Check your telephone book for listings. Contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at: Or phone them at 1-888-723-3366 (instructions available in English and Spanish). Search Floridas Extension Web site: