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Conflicting Nutrition Studies

January 12, 2009

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Nutrition news can be confusing. One day scientists are saying to drink milk the next day they’re saying it’s not as good for you as once believed. It’s no wonder people don’t know what to eat. “Conflicting results are part and parcel of the scientific process,” says one researcher.

Here’s a sample of how scientists study the benefits of certain foods and vitamins.

Types of studies:

Randomized clinical trials: In these studies researchers randomly assign one group of people to do one thing, such as take a vitamin, but assign another group to take a placebo pill (which doesn’t have any active ingredients).

Observational studies: In these studies doctors observe different groups, such as people who choose to take vitamins and those that don’t. The doctors follow both groups for many years, then take note on how the groups did. This type of study is not as reliable because there could be some other genetic or environmental factors about the people who choose to take the pill compared to others.

Laboratory studies: Studies done on animals and cells are more controversial and doctors rarely give advice based on their results. More scientists are moving away from these types of studies.  

It’s good to be an informed consumer. Along with knowing how a study is conducted it’s also a good idea to know who is funding the study because the results may be favorable to the company paying the bills.

Integrative Nutrition brings you the most up-to-date research on nutrition from world-renowned speakers. Learn more about our program and how you can become more informed.

About the author

Joshua Rosenthal is the Founder and Director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. He has worked in the nutrition field for more than 25 years, teaching at the school alongside health leaders including Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra and Barry Sears. At Integrative Nutrition students are trained as Health Coaches, receiving the holistic nutrition education necessary for them go out into the world and help others improve their health and happiness.