M2 Discussion: Review a Nutrition Website
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The number of nutrition-related websites seems infinite. Unfortunately, determining the credibility of these websites is a challenge. Fortunately, there are criteria that you can use to evaluate the credibility of a website. In this module we begin to develop and refine those skills.
During Week 3, you will search the internet and choose a website for review that is designed to increase your understanding and appreciation for a nutrition-related health concern (for example, diabetes, high cholesterol, irritable bowel, etc.).
As you begin to develop your website reviews please keep a few things in mind: first, you don’t HAVE to choose a “government sponsored” or “national organization” . **Have some fun with these too.. … I have seen excellent reviews for web sites that are pretty lame cover -ups for hidden agendas and sales sites. Americans seem to be particularly willing to believe anything as long as it has an official sounding name! Don’t be afraid to critique one of the REALLY bad sites – we can all learn a lot from the bad ones too! In many instances we can all learn more about poorly designed and/or unsavory web marketing from looking at some “bad” sites. SEE MY NOTE BELOW FOR MORE INFO.
During week 4, read your classmates’ website reviews posted during Week 3. Respond to and critique at least four of your classmates’ reviews and the responses added by your classmates.
Remember that each review was carefully prepared and that all your comments should be well-written and thoughtful. Give your opinion courteously and back it up with references.
Check out these criteria for evaluating websites and follow the format given below:
Scientific journals contain articles that have been reviewed by the authors’ qualified peers to ensure reliability. Articles in news publications often are not as reliable. The same holds true for articles or books from the popular press, which may present a particular author’s point of view, which may not be valid or defensible. It is important to read information with a critical eye!
Websites should be approached critically as well. If you were to receive a health newsletter in the mail you would probably ask yourself a few questions before trusting its content and applying what you read to your lifestyle. For example, you would probably look differently at a newsletter from a prestigious medical college than one from a nutrition supplement outlet. It’s equally important to check the credibility and credentials of websites. When browsing the Internet for this website review activity, as part of your research on your final project, or for your own information, you should answer these questions in order to critique websites:
- WHO owns the site? Is it connected with a college, museum, textbook publisher, retail store, business group, special interest group or an individual?
- WHAT is the site’s purpose? Is it to provide educational resources, foster communication among scientists, market a product, attract votes, increase political clout, or generate support for a special interest group? If the site is sponsored by a special interest group, is that made clear from the outset?
- HOW is the site listed? Did you find it through the search of a general topic? Was it linked through a reputable organization? In other words, does the particular site come with a set of references and reliable antecedents?
- WHO is likely to use the site? Who appears to be the target audience based on vocabulary used, level of education assumed or types of graphics, charts and links supplied? For example, is it geared toward kids, college students, consumers, professional scientists, or organic consumers?
- WHEN was the site copyrighted and when was it last updated? At the bottom of most websites, you can find the copyright date and often a note of when it was last updated. This will give a sense of how well the site is maintained, how current the information is and how reliable the links will be.
- WHAT is your opinion? In your presentation to the class for this assignment, be sure to answer all of the questions listed. Also, include a section on your opinion of the website and what information you learned by reading and reviewing the site. Do you recommend it? Did you learn a good deal? What was the best feature?
Sample Discussion Entry
Sample Submission for Week 3’s Discussion – Review a Nutrition Website:
Site Address: ChooseMyPlate www.choosemyplate.gov
Whose Site: ChooseMyPlate.gov is a government supported website designed to promote and inform consumers about the newly adapted changes to MyPyramid. It is produced by the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion which is part of the United States Department of Agriculture.
It provides resources sites related to:
- Coronary heart disease/cardiovascular disease
- The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020
- Food Safety Information and how to keep food safe during storage, preparation and while eating.
- Additional food safety resources
What: This site is clearly designed for the consumer as well as the professional. It provides easy availability of an amazing number of scientific databases on human nutrition, nutritional needs and disease prevention information. In addition, it has a personalized nutrition “trackers” used to assess food intake and a physical activity “trackers” to determine Physical Activity status. The hundreds (if not thousands) of scientific studies as well as the individualized resources are available at the click of a mouse! Oh, how could I forget to mention the posters and other graphics that can be downloaded for education purposes. Since it is a product of the government, there are not any duplication or copyright issues!! A true “wealth of information and resources”!!
How: This website is displayed as part of the USDA website. There is a direct link to ChooseMyPlate on the USDA home page. ChooseMyPlate was released in January 2011. Since then, numerous nutrition articles and websites, which previously listed My Pyramid as a resource now reference ChooseMyPlate .
Who: This web page seems designed for consumers, professionals (dietitians, teachers, doctors, nurses, etc.) and the media.
When: The last date noted on the “Choose MyPlate’ site was 3/14/2012.
Opinion: I have found this to be a very useful resource! MyPyramid has always been confusing to me but this seems to answer many of my existing questions! I really liked being able to put my personal information into the “tracker” to find out exactly HOW MANY calories I should be consuming and how much food it makes up! I truly did not understand the old MyPyramid. It was far too confusing and I never knew what “a serving” was. Personally, a serving of pasta for me was about 3 cups! The development of ‘MyPlate’ has taken much of the guesswork out of controlling my calories!
How to Respond to Your Classmates’ Website Reviews
Make a general observation about the review: For example, “Judging from the website, the data to support the “new” ChooseMyPlate seems to follow many recommendations from organizations such as the American Dietetic Association, the American Medical Association and the Center for Disease Control. Each of these organizations make up a reputable portion of the nutritional studies conducted on a very regular basis! The supportive data for this site appears to be well regulated, objective and held to high ethical standards (as stated by the USDA).”
Ask a question of the reviewer or comment on what they have written: For example, “Did you put in a variety of “activity amounts” to see if different caloric recommendations were suggested?”
Make your own observations: For example, ” I reviewed a portion of the Dietary Guidelines document. First of all, I did not realized there was an 112 page document providing very specific guidelines for the nutritional needs of Americans! I found the information pertaining to recommended types of fat and their health benefits. Not only did it list the types of foods “rich” in these fats, it also listed the amount I should be striving for on a weekly basis.”
Speculate and give your opinion: For example, “I liked the site, but would have like to have links for sites other than government based sites. It seems the government stands alone in their ‘Additional Links’ listing. A broader list of affiliate websites would have provided more of an unbiased approach to their overall nutrition message.”
Please post your review by the end of week 3, and remember to respond to at least three (3) of your classmates’ reviews by the end of week 4.