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Determining a Website’s Credibility

In the June/July 2013 issue of School Nutrition, author Gabriela Pacheco, RD, LD, SNS writes that today’s school nutrition professionals are encountering food- and nutrition-related challenges in their students that the profession’s pioneers would never have imagined. The article examines some of these current health and nutrition challenges that school nutrition operators and their student customers must work together to overcome. Part of learning more about these health issues and concerns with an eye toward overcoming them is understanding what they entail.

Though many of us would likely turn to the Internet for these answers, we should be aware that some of the details found there are more reliable than others because the Internet is a wonderland full of both useful and useless information. Given this, a quick way to know if a website’s nutrition information is valid is by looking at its URL.

Sites ending with .gov are credible because they are produced by the government. A college or university website is indicated by .edu; these sites contain current research data that can be trusted. A .org website often is a non-profit organization that can be expected to have credible information. If the site has a .com URL, it is typically a for-profit site trying to sell a product or service, but that does not mean it is automatically bogus. A website address alone doesn’t make a claim credible or untrustworthy; whatever the URL, always scrutinize its claims and the supporting research carefully. It also is a good idea to look through the site to determine the last time it was updated. (For some credible resources, see the list below.)

Eating Disorders

National Eating Disorders Association
Something Fishy Website on Eating Disorders
Bulimia.com

Allergies

Food Allergy Research & Education

Rinaldi, M., Harnack, L., Oberg, C., Schreiner, P., St. Sauver, J. & Travis, L.L.
"Peanut allergy diagnoses among children residing in Olmsted County, Minnesota." Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, October 2012.

Sicherer, S.H., Muñoz-Furlong, A., Godbold, J.H. & Sampson, H.A.
"US prevalence of self-reported peanut, tree nut, and sesame allergy: 11-year follow-up." Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, June 2010.

Celiac Disease

Celiac Central
"Celiac Disease: On the Rise," Mayo Clinic
“Food, Skin Allergies on the Rise Among Children: CDC,” HealthDay
"University of Maryland School of Medicine Center for Celiac Research Finds Rate of Celiac Disease is Growing," University of Maryland Medical Center