Carrot juice that cures cancer, deadly sweeteners in a can of Coke, and a girl who claims the key to beating arthritis is a steak-only diet. Fake news, all of it. Yet in the largely unregulated world of social media, such extraordinary claims about diet are rife, and are regularly shared — and believed — by millions of internet-users.
Today, we shine a light on misinformation surrounding food. The urgency is clear: in a recent survey, US dieticians said Facebook was the main source of confusion on nutrition for patients seeking a quick fix for their dietary dilemmas.
Gwyneth Paltrow advises followers of her diet to buy expensive cookware available from her website in order to cleanse their bodies. You get vegans, then raw food vegans and eventually people who are just eating cucumber. So just what are some of the worst fake food news offenders? Here, we examine a few of the most dangerous nutrition myths currently circulating online. Fake food news: Meat-only diet cures arthritis. Canadian mother-of-one Mikhaila Peterson has 57, Instagram followers and about , more subscribe to her YouTube channel.
The reason? The year-old claims she cured her severe arthritis by cutting out almost everything from her diet — except meat. She now no longer takes medication, her pain and inflammation has evaporated and her memory and energy has improved. Mikhaila Peterson claims she cured severe arthritis by cutting out almost everything from her diet apart from beef, salt and water.
That she has also lost weight means her carnivore diet — involving consuming nothing but beef, salt and water — is now being heavily promoted across social media. The message has now been lustily embraced by a largely male body-conscious audience and videos promoting it on Facebook have been viewed millions of times.
The condition is known to spontaneously resolve itself, however. You can end up in very poor health. Fake food news: Coconut oil stops Alzheimer's. It sounds absurd. Yet hundreds of thousands of people have viewed online videos by a US medic, Dr Mary Newport, who claims you can do just that.
Amid the hype, UK sales of the oil have rocketed by nearly per cent in just five years. Dr Mary Newport claims you can cure Alzheimer's with just a few drops of coconut oil. The rest of it is fat linked with increased cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, so excessive consumption may have a negative effect on health.
Fake food news: Gwyneth's soup diet cleanses your body. A quick Instagram search for detox throws up a staggering The Goop Detox Diet, revised every year, featured a item shopping list and involved cutting out caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten, corn, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, potatoes, soy, refined sugar, shellfish, white rice and eggs.
The reason is simple. Our bodies already do it pretty well. Fake food news: Diet Coke causes Brain tumours. It is a well-worn health myth: the man-made sweetener aspartame — used in everything from fizzy drinks, including Diet Coke and Coke Zero, to chewing gum — causes cancer, multiple sclerosis, blindness, depression, memory loss and birth defects.
Despite being vigorously debunked, the concept has gained new life thanks to websites that peddle fake health news. Since it was launched in the s, studies have suggested aspartame could be linked to increased rates of brain tumours and leukaemia in rats, leading to worrying headlines. But it transpired that some animals were fed the equivalent in sweetener to 20 cans of Diet Coke, every day, for months, until they died.
Despite this, the idea has stuck. Today, websites with names such as aspartamekills. In , Pepsi dropped aspartame from its US Diet Pepsi drink in response to consumer fears over safety, replacing it with sucralose, another type of sweetener. Yet the overwhelming evidence from robust, scientific trials is that aspartame is safe.
No human studies have found any link to cancer or other problems, and two major reviews, by the European Food Safety Authority and US National Cancer Institute, have concluded the sweeteners are safe. Fake food news: Carrot juice cures cancer. The article, shared more than 6, times on Facebook, gives details of scientific studies identifying compounds in fruit and vegetables — such as phytochemicals, antioxidants and free radicals — which can kill or restrict the proliferation of cancer cells.
The website Beat Cancer. Another website, called Beat Cancer. Dr Mangesh Thorat, a breast cancer specialist at Queen Mary University of London, warns that some compounds could even be dangerous. Election fixing, personal data theft and incitement of hatred: evils, undoubtedly, all linked to fake news and their sources. Compared to these, are crackpot health claims made online such a problem? The internet is an invaluable tool for finding out medical information. And this advice could lead to life-or-death decisions being made.
So, it is not an overstatement to say that those who spread misinformation and falsehoods about health have blood on their hands. More needs to be done to weed them out and expose the lies they peddle. Over the coming weeks and months, we will be delving deeper into the medical fakery in circulation while providing you, our readers, with the facts.
This newspaper is committed to evidence-based health information. So from today, in a national newspaper first, all our stories will be reviewed and approved by a medical doctor.
You can trust what you read in these pages. But at present, there is almost no way to tell whether health news online is real or fake. Some social media companies now let users flag up stories they believe are false. These companies also enlist political fact-checkers who can slap a warning on pages that contain disputed information. Tech companies like Facebook and Google need to acknowledge their part in the problem of fake health news — so they can become part of the solution.
The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. Pedlars of fake food news: Are Gwyneth Paltrow and a Canadian mother of one who claims to cure arthritis by an all-beef diet 'putting us all at risk'? Share this article Share. We believe they are. This needs to change. And if you are creating fake health news, be warned: we are watching.
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