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In the Eat2beNICE project, the researchers aim at studying the effect of diet and mental health and our blogs are meant to enlighten readers.

Every day research findings published in journals will offer an opinion on how to best live our lives. It is simply not possible, nor advised, to change your habit after every piece of new knowledge. On the other hand, researchers do need to publish their results in order to have their findings discussed and reproduced. How do you as a reader navigate?

No single study should alone be enough to change nutritional advice or guidelines. The research into a specific field is best understood when looking at several pieces of knowledge (or publications) as contributing to a bigger picture. Kim Tingley wrote a descriptive picture in the New York Times Magazine on how to view scientific findings. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/16/magazine/how-much-alcohol-can-you-drink-safe-health.html Here he writes that the process of understanding the contribution of scientific research should be like looking through a lens and asking yourself if it is clearer or less clear with this particular piece of new information.

Interpreting results from a study isn’t always easy and the limitations of the study can sometimes be difficult to spot. If you are feeling bombarded by the media with constant new findings, be aware that single findings are one piece of information, usually not the full picture and should be interpreted as such. For more information on matters of interests, a good place to start is looking at literature reviews or in the Cochrane Library https://www.cochranelibrary.com/ which will offer views on important publications within a field and help you interpret status quo.

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About the author

Liv G.Kvalvik, MD PhD, is a postdoc in the eat2beNICE project at University of Bergen. Her background is in reproductive epidemiology, working with registry data and smoking habits among pregnant women.


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