"Consumer-oriented magazines best ones for nutrition advice," says American Council on Science and Health.
New York, NY — February 28, 2007. Readers can get more reliable nutrition information from consumer-oriented popular magazines than from other types — including others that supposedly specialize in "health" information, according to the most recent survey of nutrition coverage in popular magazines by the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). This survey, the tenth by ACSH, covered magazines published in 2004 and 2005, and ranked one magazine as "excellent," fifteen as "good," four as "fair," and one as "poor" sources of nutrition information.
The survey is contained in the report Nutrition Accuracy in Popular Magazines and can be downloaded at ACSH.org.
Four ACSH judges, each an expert in food science and/or nutrition, rated ten randomly selected articles from each of twenty-one popular magazines, on the basis of three criteria: provision of factual information, objective presentation of information, and presentation of sound nutritional recommendations.
- Only one magazine, Consumer Reports, earned an "excellent" rating — which was an improvement over the last survey that did not rate any magazine this highly.
Several others came close:
- Glamour, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Shape scored only a few points below the "excellent" category.
- Twelve others — Child, Parents, Woman's Day, Cooking Light, Fitness, Redbook, Self, Good Housekeeping, Health, Runner's World, Better Homes and Gardens, and Prevention, earned lower scores in the "good" category.
- Reader's Digest, Men’s Health, Cosmopolitan, and Muscle and Fitness, were rated "fair" by ACSH's judges.
- Men's Fitness was the only magazine to earn a "poor" evaluation in this survey — a slight improvement over the previous survey in which two magazines received the lowest rating.
As a group, the four magazines targeting consumers rated most highly (84%), and the six magazines in the "women's" and three in the "home" groups tied for second place (83%). The group that is aimed at "health" ( eight magazines) issues fared the worst, garnering only a 79% in the overall ratings. This last group's composite score was lower because it included three magazines directed at men, which are especially prone to inaccurate information — a pattern that also held in the last survey.
Nutrition coverage by popular magazines has improved greatly since ACSH did its first survey in 1982. Usually the judges have been pleased with the positive incremental changes they've seen from one survey to the next. This trend did not seem to continue in the present set of magazines, however.
In general, the judges thought the overall nutrition coverage was good, though as judge Dr. Irene Berman-Levine noted, "I do not see the continual improvement that I have witnessed in previous years, with the exception of improvement (in some articles) in trying to reference the source of their information." In part, the judges attributed this lack of improvement to the continuing trend of bundling together several small pieces of nutrition information into one article — a practice that often results in oversimplification of complex topics. ACSH suggests that magazine editors have nutrition articles — especially ones consisting of groups of smaller items — reviewed for factual accuracy by a registered dietitian or other qualified health professional before publication.
Although a magazine may have a high overall rating, this doesn't mean that it did not have some articles that missed the mark for accuracy. Judge Dr. Ruth Kava, ACSH director of nutrition, noted, "Consumers should not make drastic changes in their diets based on magazine articles — consult a qualified nutrition professional for individualized information and instruction."
CONTACT: Dr. Ruth Kava (email@example.com) or call 212-362-7044
The American Council on Science and Health is an independent, non-profit consumer education organization concerned with issues related to food, nutrition, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, lifestyle, the environment and health. For more information visit http://www.acsh.org or http://HealthFactsandFears.com