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Good Science, Bad Science

I promise this isn’t another pyramid scheme!

This is the famous hierarchy of evidence pyramid which helps us determine if research is 1) reliable enough, 2) asking the right questions, and 3) can be shared with the public.

How it works is that the higher the evidence, the more confident you can base your decision on that evidence.

The higher the evidence, the less bias the evidence is, therefore it applies to a broader group of people. It is safer to share this with the public, since it most likely applies to everyone.

"Okay but ThatBlackRD aren't you an expert in dietetics." Even my expert opinion is still an opinion. Depending on my expertise and what I’ve experienced, it may contradict what another expert says; that’s why it is so important in the scientific community to use evidence-based research when we are practicing.

So nutrition can sometimes get so confusing because EVERYONE has a different opinion. Now I will not go into each type of evidence because I’m no statistician. But everyone when I share information with you, I do my research; I find the evidence, I may share my opinion, but I always make you aware of that. It is my responsibility to practice within my scope of practice and to provide those seeking information with safe and reliable information.

HOWEVER, I have come to learn that depending on the study you are conducting, different levels of evidence are more favoured over the next. For instance, working within a community-based project and you want to determine what programs or services the community needs. There is no systematic review that is going to tell you which intervention is best for the community members. The best evidence will be the expert opinion–the COMMUNITY MEMBERS!

Always critic the study conducted, the evidence gathered, and if it applies to the group you are working with in those studies. As dietitians it is our job to know what the pros and cons of using evidence at each level entail. We went through the schooling and work to critically appraise articles and evaluate the scientific literature. It is my responsibility to practice within my scope of practice and to provide those seeking information with safe and reliable information. Nutrition can be confusing, and it is our job to make it EASY!

When seeking information 3 steps I BEG you to do (seriously I'm on my knees and they aren't the best):

  1. Check the credentials of who is providing the information, if it is not a health professional please be cautious

  2. Check the sources and information they provide

  3. Check those sources in the article! Not all research is excellent research, some studies can be severely flawed and have gaps in the evidence.

Side note: they expected me to memorize and label this pyramid on an exam once. Let’s just say that didn’t go too well…

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