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When choosing foods, it's important to make an informed decision.

Evaluating the evidence: how to do your own research

With so much information available, it’s important to evaluate your choices.

In Week 1 we discussed how human eating behaviours are influenced by many biological, personal, environmental, economic and social factors. We also explored food-based dietary guidelines in Step 1.13.

But when faced with choices about our diet, how else can we evaluate what food to eat?

In some countries, government bodies such as Food Standards Australia New Zealand assist consumers to make informative choice around food products. They provide information about claims on nutrition content and health impact of foods or food products, and explain how to read nutrition information panels that are often included on packaged foods. They also help consumers with other food-related information, such as product labelling and information about allergens.

Evaluating information

When it comes to assessing food, nutrition or diet-related information, it’s important to evaluate your sources, particularly if this information is coming from the Internet. There are a few points to consider in your evaluation, most important are:

Currency Up-to-date information is important, particularly in dynamic fields such as food and nutrition.
Relevance Does the information fit your current needs?
Authority Who is the author of the information you are reviewing? Is it provided by reputable researchers or practitioners? Could the authors be biased due to economic or personal gains?
Accuracy Is the information based on scientific evidence? Is it verified or reviewed?
Purpose Is the reviewed information based on facts or is it anecdotal? Is it a promotional material by producers or is it a scientific or news publication to inform consumers?

Thinking critically and unpacking the information coming to you will help with decision making and avoid confusion and misinformation.

Your task

Use this interactive labelling poster to explore the food labelling requirements set out in the Food Standards Code by Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

In the comments below describe and discuss any food labelling requirements in your country.

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This article is from the free online course:

Food and Mood : Improving Mental Health Through Diet and Nutrition

Deakin University