Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Medicine and the Media

Nutrition science in the media: you are what you read

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 07 April 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i1879
  1. Navjoyt Ladher, clinical editor, The BMJ
  1. nladher{at}

Original research findings are often distorted in the messages that reach the public, reports Navjoyt Ladher

Is a low carbohydrate diet more healthy than a low fat diet? Does eating red meat cause cancer? Will a glass of red wine a day keep the doctor away?

Whether it’s the latest purported health benefit of a so called superfood or a nutrient that has fallen out of favour because of a link to a harmful health outcome, nutritional research is all over the news. Media reporting influences people’s choices about what to eat and drink. But coverage is often incomplete, inaccurate, or sensationalised, leading to confusing, sometimes conflicting, messages around food and diet.1 2

“There seem to be more health stories in the media,” Richard Smith, former editor of The BMJ, told a recent meeting at the Royal Society of Medicine. “But more information has not meant more understanding because information is poorly presented and …

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