I was cruising through my Twitter feed this morning (follow me @psyched2run) and I came across this post:
If you click on the link
, it takes you to a page where "Diet columnist Julia Miller" discusses the pros of Raspberry Ketone supplements. After taking just a few minutes to verify the information (a simple task even my Intro Psych kiddos can do), I found out that this "Julia Miller" doesn't even exist. It get's better - the EXACT SAME info (literally, word for word) for the raspberry ketones on this site
is present for another product (Kore HCG) on another site and the "Julia Miller" for each one looks different (see below).
Besides the obvious issues with this, I am almost outraged that the person who claims to be a supporter of healthy living has posted this on Twitter. And then I'm actually outraged that someone would RETWEET this. Both of these accounts have thousands of followers - everyday women like me and you who are looking for the truth about how to be healthy. And this absolute crap is being treated like good, trustworthy information. The scientist in me is fuming, but so is the woman that has spent the majority of her life trying make good decisions.
And this brings me to another point I discuss often with my students - Make Your Own Decisions (yes, in capital letters, just like that). Just because you like someone's blog or you follow them on Twitter - that doesn't make them an expert about everything health related (myself included!!). In just five minutes, you can get a pretty good idea about the validity of a claim someone is making and then DECIDE FOR YOURSELF if you think it's legit.
Step 1: Find information about the author of an article/blog. What credentials do they have? Googling "Julia Miller" immediately brought up sites related to this "writer" being a health scam.
Step 2: Check other links/resources provided in an article. Do they actually go somewhere? Are these sources credible?
Step 3: Read up on related issues - especially arguments from the opposing side. You should have all the information you can before making a decision.
Don't be duped. You're working hard to make healthy living a lifestyle and you don't want it all undone because some idiot posted something that looked real (but isn't) on the internet. You're smarter than that.
Ok, thank you for putting up with my rant. Now, what is the actual deal with Raspberry Ketones?
Raspberry ketones are a component found in raspberries (and similar fruits, like blackberries) which, in molecular structure, is similar to capsaicin
(the compound that makes foods spicy). So, people hypothesized that maybe raspberry ketones, like capsaicin, would improve energy consumption (thermogenesis) and help with weight loss. Here's the truth:
- I could not find one study that examined humans where raspberry ketones were the primary supplement.
- I found one study (Lopez et al., 2013) that looked at weight loss in humans but the supplement contained, in addition to raspberry ketones, caffeine, capsaicin, garlic, ginger, and citrus aurantium. This study did find that participants lost weight and fat tissue when using said supplement, but:
-The participants also dieted (500 calorie deficit daily) and exercised (3 bootcamps/week)
-Out of 70 people that started the study, only 45 made it all the way to the end (sounds sustainable, am I right?
-This research was funded by the makers of the supplement. Conflict of interest, anyone?
- Three separate studies (Lilli et al., 2011; Kim et al., 2012; Morimoto et al., 2005) examined the effect of raspberry ketones in rats who were fed high-fat diets and showed moderate protective effects of the supplement. Researchers think that raspberry ketones work by influencing the body's response to insulin and moderating different hunger-related hormones. That might sound great, in theory, but (1) the participants were rats (not people) and (2) taking drugs that moderate your hormones (or potentially brain chemistry) is not to be taken lightly. There can be a range of serious side effects related to this (heart palpitations, mood changes, irregular hunger signaling, etc.) that are not discussed in any of the studies I reviewed.
Overall, my point in writing this blog post is to have you think a little bit more about the information being provided to you on the internet. But it's also a call to bloggers and social media activists to be more responsible with what they post and disseminate to their readers, whom they claim to care about. I hope you'll repost this if you, like me, want to demand better information from the people giving it to us.
Do you normally do any sort of fact-checking with regard to the posts you read online?
What's the most outlandish claim you've followed up on (either on Twitter, Facebook, or a blog post)?