Quality of nutritional information on the Internet in health and disease

Hippokratia 2011; 15 (4): 304-307

K. Gkouskou, A. Markaki, M. Vasilaki, A. Roidis, I. Vlastos


Background: Quality assessment of nutritional information on the internet may prove vital prior to providing public guidance on searching relative information.
Methods: The most popular web sites on four different topics (“Mediterranean diet”, “sports nutrition”, “nutrition, dysphagia and children” and “herbs and common cold”) were assessed with the use of two validated questionnaires (EQIP and DISCERN).
Results: Medical categories produced significantly lower total quality scores when compared to “Mediterranean diet” and “sports nutrition” categories. (F=7.189, P<0.001). Commercial web pages had a significantly lower credibility score compared to institutional and other web page types (H=17.987, P<0.001). Ranking order of each web page was related to its total quality score (P=0.04) but not to its credibility (P=0.241).
Conclusions: Monitoring the accuracy, comprehensiveness and consistency of health-related information on the internet is an important public health issue since there are popular web pages that are regarded as of high quality but they do not always provide reliable information. Health professionals and especially dieticians should provide consumer training on how to search for and appraise nutritional information from the internet.