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||Do we facilitate the scientific process and the development of dietary guidance when findings from single studies are publicized? An American Society for Nutritional Sciences controversy session report.
||Wellman NS, Scarbrough FE, Ziegler RG, Lyle B
||Am J Clin Nutr
||This American Society for Nutritional Sciences Controversy Session presented at the 1997 Experimental Biology meeting considered whether publicity of findings from single studies facilitates or hampers the scientific process and the development of scientifically sound dietary guidance. In a 1995 survey, 78% of primary household shoppers believed it "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that in the next 5 y experts would have a completely different idea about which foods were healthy and which were not. This skepticism is fueled by the media's emphasis on reporting new and often controversial findings about food and nutrition. Media efforts are reinforced by the fact that some scientific journals regularly publicize newly published research findings. As a consequence, journalists frequently mediate scientific debate in a public forum-debate that previously was conducted among knowledgeable peers. Tight deadlines often make it difficult for reporters to thoroughly investigate findings publicized in press releases. Headlines can make results from single studies appear important, even when results are inconclusive. Finally, scientists and public policymakers have limited opportunity for making timely comments in response to an issue reported in the media. Nevertheless, the public has a right to be informed about health-related research findings to help them make decisions about their diets. The media are a valuable resource for educating the public and maintaining public interest in the importance of diet in overall health status. Nutrition scientists should be more involved in helping the media accurately convey diet and health messages.