Friday, August 2, 2013


Two developments during the last few years have thrown new challenges for the innocent consumers in understanding what is going on in the field of nutrition and health. First, increasing awareness about nutrition and nutritional importance of food and their safety aspects. The other issue is the vast expansion of "knowledge" through scientific and social endeavors, made available through the electronic and print media. In such an environment the consumer is in a predicament to believe and practice what is appearing in the media from time to time. In many such cases there are contradictory assertions taking opposite stands on many issues. Where will the consumer go for getting the real truth unequivocally with reasonable clarity. Here is a recent "loud thinking" by a critic regarding such dilemmas being faced by consumers more and more frequently. 

It seems like every day there's a new nutrition headline in the press: "Ditch Carbs!" "Eat the Right Fats." "Don't Eat After 7 p.m." "Fast Two Days a Week." It's difficult for consumers to sift through the myths and facts and know whom to rely on for information they can believe and apply. Between what you read in magazines, hear on the news or follow on social media, it's even possible to hear conflicting information on the same day. I recently came across two stories exemplifying this point; the first encouraged eating breakfast, while the other suggested it was beneficial to skip your morning meal several times a week. Diet and nutrition stories can sometimes be compared to tabloid magazines; they get people talking by making an outrageous claim. So when it comes to getting the latest dish, what's a confused consumer to do?

The answer to the above question may not be easy as the knowledge base is expanding at a frenetic pace and is disseminated too fast! For those who are educated and computer literate, Internet information sources like Wikipedia can be accessed but here also a reader is subjected to more and more contradictory views making it next to impossible to get at the truth. This is where information web sites hosted by government agencies will be useful and relevant. There must be an interactive web site for the citizen to approach for real time information on any issues concerning food, nutrition, health and food safety. Of course for millions of people not having access to Internet and computers such information may be out of reach. In such cases popular print media must be cajoled to earmark some pace for publishing free all clarifications on controversial issues that agitate the minds of the citizens after reading apparently contradictory claims appearing in the media. The Health Ministry of the government must take the necessary initiative for this novel consumer education program. 


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