Ten Red Flags of Junk Science

A new health or nutrition report? Before you jump to conclusions, check it out. Any combination of these signs should send up a red flag of suspicion.

  1. Recommendations that promise a quick fix.
  2. Dire warnings of danger from a single product or regimen.
  3. Claims that sound too good to be true.
  4. Simplistic conclusions drawn from a complex study.
  5. Recommendations based on a single study.
  6. Dramatic statements that are refuted by reputable scientific organizations.
  7. Lists of "good" and "bad" foods.
  8. Recommendations made to help sell a product.
  9. Recommendations based on studies published without peer review.
  10. Recommendations from studies that ignore differences among individuals or groups.

Source: Developed by the Food and Nutrition Science Alliance (FANSA).

with the appropriate government agency or file a complaint.

To the Postal Service. Contact your postmaster or someone else in the Postal Service if you've been the victim—or target—of nutrition fraud through the mail. It's illegal to use the Postal Service to make false claims about or to sell fraudulent products or services.

To the FDA. Make inquiries or file complaints

Now score yourself:

In this game of "Ten Questions," you might spot quackery with just one "yes" answer! Here's why.

1. Fact: Playing on emotion, misinformation, or even fear is common among nonscientific pseudoexperts. Emotional words used to promote a product can be an instant tip-off to quackery: "guar about false claims for dietary supplements with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That includes concerns about inadequate information on package labels.

To the FTC. For questions or concerns about false or misleading claims in advertising, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

anteed," "breakthrough," and "miraculous" are used for emotional appeal. So are false claims that most Americans are poorly nourished or that foods or additives are "deadly poisons."

2. Fact: Pseudo-medical jargon such as "detoxify" or "balance your body chemistry" suggests misinformation. These terms have no meaning in

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