Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Contradictory nutrition news creates consumer confusion

Date:
January 28, 2014
Source:
Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health
Summary:
Exposure to conflicting news about the health benefits of certain foods, vitamins and supplements often results in confusion and backlash against nutrition recommendations, finds a recent study.

Exposure to conflicting news about the health benefits of certain foods, vitamins and supplements often results in confusion and backlash against nutrition recommendations, finds a recent study in the Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives.

This confusion and backlash may make people more likely to ignore not only the contradictory information, but also widely accepted nutritional advice such as eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and exercising regularly, said Rebekah Nagler, Ph.D., assistant professor in University of Minnesota's School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Minneapolis and author of the study.

Nagler analyzed responses collected from 631 adults who took part in the Annenberg National Health Communication Survey in 2010. Participants were asked how much conflicting or contradictory information they heard from the media, including newspapers, television, radio, and the internet about four specific nutritional topics: red wine or other alcohol; fish; coffee; and vitamins or other supplements.

More than 71 percent of people surveyed said that they heard moderate or high levels of contradictory information about nutrition. Those with the greatest exposure to contradictory information expressed the most confusion about nutrition. Greater confusion was associated indirectly with backlash against nutritional advice in general, as indicated by agreement with statements such as "Dietary recommendations should be taken with a grain of salt," or "Scientists really don't know what foods are good for you." This was true even when controlling for age, education or level of general mistrust. Confusion and backlash were also slightly associated with less intention to exercise or eat fruits and vegetables.

Many people get health information from the news media, which may not make it clear that research is constantly evolving. In addition, different research institutes may produce conflicting results on similar topics or produce results on related topics that are at cross purposes, such as finding that fish containing oils that are good for your heart may be contaminated with mercury, which is bad for you, Nagler explained.

"Can the public deal with [these messages]? Can they make sense of what they are seeing?" Nagler wondered. The fault may not lie solely with journalists for not doing a good job of explaining the research since the media landscape is changing as newspapers shrink and as social media such as blogs and Facebook grow in influence, she added.

"The author points out that there is an association at work here," said Ivan Oransky, M.D., vice president and global editorial director at MedPage Today and vice president of the Association of Health Care Journalists. The study notes that people who are confused about nutrition in the first place may blame the media for their confusion, he pointed out.

Journalists should try to avoid relying on information based on findings from a single nutrition or health study and instead report on findings from groups of studies, Oransky said. If journalists do report on a single study, they need to put the information in context, he added.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rebekah H. Nagler. Adverse Outcomes Associated With Media Exposure to Contradictory Nutrition Messages. Journal of Health Communication, 2014; 19 (1): 24 DOI: 10.1080/10810730.2013.798384

Cite This Page:

Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health. "Contradictory nutrition news creates consumer confusion." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140128153814.htm>.
Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health. (2014, January 28). Contradictory nutrition news creates consumer confusion. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140128153814.htm
Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health. "Contradictory nutrition news creates consumer confusion." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140128153814.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The World Health Organization has declared Nigeria free of Ebola. Health experts credit a bit of luck and the government's initial response. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The United Nations says water is a human right, but should it be free? Detroit has cut off water to residents who can't pay, and the U.N. isn't happy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins