Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 21, Issue 7, pp 769–774

Brief report: Nutrition and weight loss information in a popular diet book: Is it fact, fiction, or something in between?

  • Sarah L. Goff
  • Joanne M. Foody
  • Silvio Inzucchi
  • David Katz
  • Susan T. Mayne
  • Harlan M. Krumholz
Original Articles

DOI: 10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00501.x

Cite this article as:
Goff, S.L., Foody, J.M., Inzucchi, S. et al. J Gen Intern Med (2006) 21: 769. doi:10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00501.x

Abstract

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: Diet books dominate the New York Times Advice Best Seller list and consumers cite such books as an important source of nutrition information. However, the scientific support for nutrition claims presented as fact (nutrition facts) in diet books is not known.

DESIGN/MEASUREMENTS: We assessed the quality of nutrition facts in the best-selling South Beach Diet using support in peer-reviewed literature as a measure of quality. We performed structured literature searches on nutrition facts located in the books’ text, and then assigned each fact to 1 of 4 categories (1) fact supported, (2) fact not supported, (3) fact both supported and not supported, and (4) no related papers. A panel of expert reviewers adjudicated the findings.

RESULTS: Forty-two nutrition facts were included. Fourteen (33%) facts were supported, 7 (17%) were not supported, 18 (43%) were both supported and not supported, and 3 (7%) had no related papers, including the fact that the diet had been “scientifically studied and proven effective.”

CONCLUSIONS: Consumers obtain nutrition information from diet books. We found that over 67% of nutrition facts in a best-seller diet book may not be supported in the peer-reviewed literature. These findings have important implications for educating consumers about nutrition information sources.

Key words

health informationnutritionweight loss

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah L. Goff
    • 1
  • Joanne M. Foody
    • 2
  • Silvio Inzucchi
    • 3
  • David Katz
    • 4
    • 5
  • Susan T. Mayne
    • 6
  • Harlan M. Krumholz
    • 2
    • 5
    • 7
    • 8
  1. 1.Departments of Medicine and PediatricsUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  2. 2.Department of Medicine, Section of Cardiovascular MedicineYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Department of Medicine, Section of EndocrinologyYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  4. 4.Yale Griffin Prevention Research CenterDerbyUSA
  5. 5.Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Section of Health Policy and AdministrationYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  6. 6.Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Section of Chronic Disease EpidemiologyYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  7. 7.Department of Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars ProgramYale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  8. 8.Yale New Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research and EvaluationNew HavenUSA