Dieting is a billion dollar industry in this country. Why do you think Americans continue to spend their money on the latest gimmick or fad diet promising the magical solution to their obesity problem? If you go to your local bookstore, you will notice a huge section devoted to the latest in fad diets. Have you ever wondered how accurate these publications are? Remember our first lesson in this course on identifying Nutrition Quackery, and use this information as you evaluate some of the claims made by the authors. Check the credentials of the author. It never fails to surprise me how many individuals will publish diet books with absolutely no credentials – and the public continues to buy them!
Assignment: Evaluating Fad Diets
You will have an opportunity to investigate one of the current fad diets available on the market today. Select one that you would like to research. Once you’ve had a chance to review your chosen diet, you will write a paper to discuss its attributes and why you think it is a fad diet. You will also post a summary of your paper (one paragraph) on the discussion board. To earn full credit on your posting, you should respond to at least one of your classmates’ postings.
You do not need to go out and purchase the diet book assigned to you, although you may want to check your local library for a copy. As an alternative, you can also go to your local bookstore just to browse through your book and get a feel for what is presented. You should be able to find most of the information you need on the Internet. Many nonprofit (and unbiased!) web sites have published reviews of current diets and programs, and some of these are listed below. The author(s) or organization may even have their own web site; just remember that motive will influence the presentation of information. Review these sites skeptically!
Part One: Reading Assignments
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/health/hea03.shtm Weighing the Evidence in Diet Ads
This is a great review article about fad diets at the quackwatch web site:
TedEd lesson: “How to Spot a Fad Diet” https://ed.ted.com/lessons/do-fad-diets-work-mia-nacamulli
Article from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: https://www.eatright.org/health/weight-loss/fad-diets/staying-away-from-fad-diets
How Does One Define a Fad Diet? http://www.everydiet.org/fad_diets.htm
The Wheat Foods Council infographic “10 Ways to Spot a Fad Diet”
The Center for Science in the Public Interest lists many nutrition fads here (some fad diet example are included):
Part Two: Evaluating a Fad Diet
Check the web sites listed below for fad diet ideas and background information on many popular plans. Remember: you don’t have to read everything in these links – it is just to help you get started in your search. Feel free to use as many resources as you can think of while researching your topic.
In this podcast, a Registered Dietitian reviews the Best and Worst Diets of 2020.
*Disclaimer: Beware of the .com websites. Reviewers may not have the proper credentials, but you can at least get some idea of the pros and cons.
Once you’ve reviewed your diet, you will post your opinion about it. You should discuss credibility of the author, availability of scientific evidence to support the diet, safety of the diet, if you think it would be effective and/or realistic to follow, etc.
You should include references, including ones that provide an unbiased review (not just the web site of the diet). Remember to list them in the proper format at the end of the paper.
You will also need to make a posting to the discussion board with a summary of what you found.