Nutrition and wellness
It is of human instinct that an individual would want the best health condition for himself. Hence, in times of illness or injury, an individual would seek some kind of measure to help himself feel better. At this modern age, there is a plethora of information from the media that provides quick references for different types of health issues and problems. However, amidst such wealth of facts that are of reach to the public, there are also a significant number of information resources that are unreliable, which could not only be misleading, but harmful to the health of an individual (Thurairaja et al., 2005).
One major source of unreliable health information is those certain health websites on the Internet (Scott et al., 2005). These health websites provide quick reference to different types of ailments and injuries, from symptoms, causes and treatment. However, one should be cautious with regards to which websites an individual could rely on. There are health websites that are not run by medical practitioners but small organizations that are plainly interested in specific diseases and would like to offer whatever ill-gotten understanding of the disease (Harland and Bath, 2007). In order to avoid being misled by unreliable health websites, one should first determine the person or group of persons who are operating the website. The operator of the website is generally indicated at the heading or top of the website. It is routine for reliable health websites to prominently exhibit their identity at the top of the website. Another hint that will help an individual determine if the health website is reliable is that the website indicates that it is run by the government. These websites usually having website locators (URL) ending in .gov (for government) or .edu (for education) or .org (for organization). One should be cautious if the health websites show locators ending in .com (for commercial), yet not all commercial websites are unreliable. For example, the Mayo Clinic can be found at http://www.mayoclinic.com and this website is highly reliable.
Another source of unreliable health information comes from magazines. These easily accessible reading materials are everywhere and very affordable. Magazines often carry health articles which are written by regular untrained individuals with no experience in medicine. These articles would offer dense material about specific diseases and health issues, from cancer to vitamin intake. These magazines often include such articles in their issues because they know that health topics are good topics that attract customers and consumers. In addition, these articles are also intended to promote specific health products hence these are geared towards income generation.
Another source of unreliable health information originates from television advertisements. Such commercials that produce health products or any other products that may be related to one’s health often employ tactics that would catch the consumers’ interest. Health is usually a very catchy topic hence they would create commercials that show that their product results in healthy and happy children, even if this has not yet been scientifically proven. These commercials are also geared towards generating income through sales of their product hence they would like to make their products interesting and very beneficial to the consumer.
There are several sources of unreliable health information hence we should all be cautious in our choice of material that we read, watch or listen to. Health is a very important human condition and we would not want our conditions be damaged by unreliable health websites, commercials or reading materials.
Harland J and Bath P (2007): Assessing the quality of websites providing information on multiple sclerosis: evaluating tools and comparing sites. Health Informatics J. 13(3):207-21.
Scott WG, Scott HM and Auld TS (2005): Consumer access to health information on the internet: health policy implications. Aust. New Zealand Health Policy. 28;2:13.
Thurairaja R, Barrass B and Persad R (2005): Internet websites selling herbal treatments for erectile dysfunction. Int. J. Impot. Res. 17(2):196-200.