There is a lot of nutrition ‘noise’ and ‘nutribabble’ on social media and we need to make sure that dietitians stand out from the crowd as the experts in nutrition.

As dietitians our tag line is often ‘evidence based nutrition’, but what do we actually mean by this and why is it important?

Evidence based practice

Evidence based practice (EBP) is used in all areas of medicine and healthcare.  It involves searching for the evidence around the topic (scientific papers that report on research). Appraising the data (is it a good reliable study?) and then useing the most current and valid evidence as the basis for clinical decisions. This then forms the basis of the nutritional advice given. Advice given isn’t just based on EBP, but also personally tailored to the individual ensuing the advice is clinically safe.

Anecdotal Stories

Unfortunately at lot of unqualified people on social media do not have training in nutrition or limited training. They based their advice on personal or anecdotal stories, not EBP! For example, ‘I went on a detox diet for 7 days, lost weight and felt great (look at my wonderful Instagram photo of me drinking green juice) so you should do it too (and you will look like me)’! Anecdotal advice is not evidence based and very low quality.

This great infographic from The Rooted Project explains it perfectly.


Hieracy of Evidene

Highest quality research includes randomised control trials (RCTs) which involves an experimental group and a control group which have been randomly allocated. The two groups can be compared and conclusions drawn. Even higher evidence than this would be a review paper looking at all the research papers on the same topic and drawing conclusions using statistical analysis. This kind of review was done for a paper published earlier this year on fruit and vegetables which found the more fruit and veg we eat the better, which is why as dietitians we keep encouraging you to eat more fruit and veg!

Dietitians are Experts in nutrition

In the UK it is illegal to call yourself a dietitian unless you are qualified as one and are registered to practice with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC). To be fit to practice, dietitians have to continually keep up to date with the latest evidence. This might be by reading current text books, journal papers, literature reviews, attending conferences and meetings and discussing with colleagues. We have to keep a record of our professional development. Every 2 years a percentage of dietitians are called up by the HCPC to provide evidence on how we have been keeping up to date so that we can be re registered. This continued professional development is not a requirement for everyone else (apart from Registered and Associate Nutritionists on a voluntary register – RNutrs / ANutr – you can trust them for nutritional advice as well). So if you are getting nutrition advice from other people (celebrities, bloggers, chefs, personal trainers etc) you cannot be sure that the nutritional advice they are giving is correct or up to date. If the advice is  wrong or out date it could lead to health issues. For example detoxing on green juice for a week will leave your body lacking in protein, vitamins and minerals, and detoxing for longer than this will lead to deficiencies.

So if you want good quality, up to date, evidence based nutrition advice, then search for the word Dietitian (or dietician or RD for short) because you know you can trust a dietitian to know about nutrition.

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