Nutrition Accuracy in Popular Magazines (January 1997-December 1999)

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When Americans want answers to questions such as these, they often turn to popular magazines. In a survey conducted in 1999 by the American Dietetic Association,1 almost half (47%) of the respondents stated that magazines were one of their top sources of nutrition information, and 87% said that they considered magazines to be a valuable information source. Clearly, the American public has a great deal of confidence in the nutrition information presented in popular magazines. But is this confidence justified?

The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) has been tracking nutrition reporting in magazines for 18 years. Over that period, ACSH has found that the quality of the reporting has improved, reflecting most magazines' growing commitment to educating their readers. In this, the eighth Nutrition Accuracy in Popular Magazines survey, ACSH found the majority of the magazines surveyed (14 out of 20 or 70%) that were EXCELLENT or GOOD sources of nutrition information. All of the remaining magazines in the survey were FAIR information sources. For the first time in the history of ACSH's surveys, no magazine scored in the POOR range. Table 1 summarizes the results of the survey.

Three magazines were rated EXCELLENT (90-100% of the possible points): Parents (91%), Cooking Light (90%), and Good Housekeeping (90%).

Eleven magazines were rated GOOD (80-89%): Consumer Reports (89%), Self (87%), Shape (86%), Glamour (84%), Health (84%), Woman's Day (84%), Better Homes and Gardens (83%), Reader's Digest (83%), Men's Health (82%),Runner's World (82%), and Ladies' Home Journal (80%).

Six magazines were rated FAIR (70-79%): Cosmopolitan (79%), Fitness (78%), Redbook (78%), Mademoiselle (77%), Muscle & Fitness (73%), and Prevention (72%).

1 ADA (American Dietetic Association), Nutrition and You: Trends 2000, Chicago: ADA, 2000.

Nutrition Accuracy in Popular Magazines (1997-'99)