Myth: A dietitian and nutritionist are the same thing
Fact: Registered Dietitian’s are board certified medical professionals that are required to complete 1200+ hours of supervised practice, a state exam and licensure. They can treat medical conditions and must log continuing education credits each year. In January 2024, Dietitians will be required to complete masters degrees to practice. Conversely, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, there are no regulations, no board exam and no continuing education requirements.
Myth: Body Mass Index (BMI) is an accurate and reliable way to measure health status
Fact: BMI was first created by an astronomer and never intended to be used as a health measure. The World Health Organization set the BMI standards we use today and relied on the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) to come up with these standards. The funders of the IOTF were pharmaceutical companies who had the only weight loss drugs on the market at the time. Seventy-five million adults are currently misclassified based on BMI-status - nearly 50% of those in the overweight category, 29% in the obese category, and 16% in the obese II & III categories are metabolically healthy.
Myth: Weight loss is necessary to improve health stats
Fact: There is little to no support that weight loss is essential to achieve health benefits. Health benefits are shown from achievable lifestyle modifications independent of weight loss. Weight/BMI doesn’t equal health!
Myth: GMO crops aren’t as healthy as non-GMO crops
Fact: Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are just as safe and nutritious as their non-GMO counterparts. In the US, GMO crops are only transgenic crops (crops with genes added or removed) but true genetic modification of crops includes many different methods - nearly all modern day crops are modified in some way. There are only 11 crops grown in the US that are grown using transgenic modification methods. The non-GMO label you see on products is an exclusionary label, meaning it can be placed on anything that hasn't undergone transgenic modification. What was originally a marketing tactic to promote non-altered crops created an unnecessary fear of GMO products.
Myth: Natural or organic means no pesticides were used on the crops
Fact: Natural and organic methods still use pesticides, the only difference is organic/natural use natural pesticides and conventional crops use synthetic. The synthetic pesticides used in the US have consistently shown more than adequate safety for human consumption. Natural pesticides need to be used in higher doses to achieve the same benefits of synthetic pesticides.
Myth: Nutrition and supplement fact labels are highly accurate and regulated
Fact: Nutrition fact labels on food are highly regulated but not 100% accurate. Supplement fact labels are not closely regulated. The FDA allows a 20% margin of error on nutrition fact label categories, such as total calories, but closely regulates and guarantees the safety of food products. Supplement companies are responsible for having evidence that their products are safe & label claims are truthful if a complaint is ever made against them. Companies can hire third party testers to test the safety and ingredients of the supplement. Supplements that have gone through this testing process receive an additional seal to make consumers aware that testing has occurred.
Myth: Everyone needs a multivitamin
Fact: A multivitamin is worth considering if you have a poor appetite, don’t have regular access to a variety of foods, avoid certain foods (strict vegetarian or vegan), if you follow a low calorie diet, or have been advised by your medical professional to take one. Other specialty situations that require a multivitamin include: if you’re trying to become/are pregnant (folic acid, iron, iodine, vitamin D) or if you’re over the age of 50 (lower B12 absorption from food). It is always best to try and get your nutrients from food!
Myth: There is one best diet for all
Fact: The best diet is the one that works for you! FAD diets or diets you commonly see advertised do not support health improvements, they actually lead to a decline in health status. Fast diets result in weight cycling which is the constant quick weight loss and then regain of weight. Long-term follow up studies show that ⅓- ⅔ of weight lost is regained within 1 year and nearly all is regained within 5 years. Weight cycling also leads to metabolic dysregulation and can increase the risk of chronic disease development. The diet industry is worth nearly 8 billion dollars!
Myth: Health is largely determined by health behaviors
Fact: Eating nutrient-dense foods and moving your body improve your well-being - even more so when you have a positive relationship with food and movement! However, health behaviors are not the main determinants of health, social differences are. Individual behaviors make up 36% of health determinants, whereas physical environment, medical care, genetics and biology, and social circumstances make up 64%.