The Doctor is In…ternet.

if-you-diagnose-yourself-using-webmd

We all have that one friend who can check any symptom they may have with WebMD and end up with “cancer” as a potential result. Pew Research has found that 3 in 5 Americans depend on the internet to provide them with health information. This seems reasonable: it is cheaper than going to the doctor, it is less intimidating than talking with someone one-on-one, and it is right at our fingertips– literally.

When it comes to our questions on nutritional information (especially now as we look for answers to working towards a beach-ready body prior to summer), we tend to look to the internet for guidance. But do we know that what we are reading is reliable? Eye-catching titles like “Lose 10 lbs in 1 Week!,” and “10 Foods that Help You Shed Pounds” could possibly lead to articles containing random information put together by a stranger with no research to back-up their claims. Even popular sources like LIVESTRONG.com or WebMD may contain false articles.

Without the knowledge of what articles are true or not, what consequences would our bodies face if we take the advice of “eat a no-carb diet” or “don’t eat after 6 PM”? It can be challenging to spot reliable information– there is a vast ocean of blogs, news articles, and websites which seem legitimate, but there are signs that indicate false information.

  1. The first red flag is the “Buy Me!” tone within articles. If a product is the topic, this piece is NOT reliable. Any “miracle pill” could be either a placebo or harmful to your health.
  2. Next, look for any links to evidence-based research. Some articles contain great information that may seem true, but if there are no links to practice-based research, scrutinize the data carefully.
  3. Ask yourself if there are any publications cited within the text. Cited journals and articles will indicate that the information being provided is backed up with research.
  4. Finally, look at the date of the article. Up-to-date information may indicate true information. Because health information is constantly changing due to ongoing research, it is always best to read the most recent facts.

As the social media era keeps growing, it is up to us to dismiss deceptive posts on the internet. To make it less difficult to spot unreliable resources, we will leave you with a link to a page with trustworthy sites from Georgia Southern’s Student Health 101. Stay healthy,and be careful with the information you read online.

Feel free to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more tips (of the wellness variety) and University Wellness Program updates!

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