Where’s the Evidence?

You read the headline “New Weightloss Supplement Burns Fat Faster” on the cover of a popular magazine while waiting in line at the checkout at your local grocery store. You see your favorite TikToker post, “Do These Three Exercises to Burn Belly Fat.” You flip over to Facebook and see your friend has shared an article titled “The Secrets to Gaining Muscle Fast.” You may wonder, can I trust this? Surely, based on the publication’s popularity, social media influencer, or website, this has to be rooted in scientific research, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. But there are some ways to decipher scientific research from attention-grabbing headlines. Here are a few ways that you can tell if it’s fact or fiction:

  1. Check your sources. Peer-reviewed scholarly articles are a great source of trusted information. We get most of our blog post ideas from peer-reviewed articles, scientific journals, and experts in the field, and these sources are pretty easy to find. The National Library of Medicine (https://www.nlm.nih.gov/) has a wealth of information. Since most peer-reviewed studies are a pretty dry read, it might not be your first choice for exploring health-related news. Reading the intro and abstract will give you a pretty good idea of the main objective and point of the article/study, though, and that’s a great place to start! 
  2. Not all of what you read is going to come from scholarly articles. Many people who write blogs and post on social media summarize, pull from multiple sources, and don’t cite those sources. After all, not everything is a graduate-level research paper. Most of the time, people want to pass on helpful information! But a quick Google search with keywords should pull up publications that DO come from scientific journals, peer-reviewed research, or trusted sources. You can also search within scholarly databases (like the one mentioned above) for keywords. When you Google, make sure you are not succumbing to confirmation bias- you will find other articles to support what you are looking for, regardless of whether it is factual. 
  3. Sometimes, you may encounter something written by a doctor or professional in their field, but a scientific journal did not publish it, and it is unclear if it was peer-reviewed. Just because what they have written is not peer-reviewed doesn’t always mean that they do not have merit. However, it’s a good idea to check their credentials. Again, Googling the writer’s name and title should provide more information about them. If they are a medical professional, you should be able to find information, such as licensure, in databases on the internet.
  4. Some people speak from personal experience, and personal experience is personal experience. You can’t really fact-check opinions. However, if they are trying to sell you a miracle product or have #ad in their caption, it might be time to make sure that you can trust their content. If you are curious if a product or program works, looking up reviews written by real people who have not been paid to advertise for the company is always a good idea.
  5. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Using common sense gets you a long way! There will never be a weight-loss product or fitness program that provides instant results. Like most things worth doing, your fitness journey requires motivation, time, and hard work. In the end, that’s a better way to do things anyway- wellness is a lifestyle, and once you form healthy habits, they will follow you for life!

At Fit, we gather our information from various sources. While it’s true that we don’t give you a reference page, we do our best to ensure that everything we write here is paraphrased from evidence-based articles, scientific journals, and peer-reviewed studies. You don’t have to take our word for it, though, and in a world with so much information available right at our fingertips, it never hurts to verify information, even from us (we won’t be offended). It is sometimes tedious, but it’s always worth double-checking to ensure that information that might change your lifestyle, what you purchase, or your beliefs are evidence-based!