A network for students interested in evidence-based health care

Fad diets – #AskForEvidence

Posted on 4th August 2014 by


Evidence-based health care is about more than just systematic reviews used to guide medical treatments in defined conditions. Public health measures and campaigns can reach a much wider range of the population than an individual clinician, however passionate about evidence-based medicine they may be. Glossy magazines and tabloids reach a vast number of people, and often offer health and well-being advice on dubious grounds. They are also a fertile source of fad diets.

Given that many of these fad diets are presented to the general public with sweeping claims of health and weight-loss benefits, the people at Sense about Science‘s Voice of Young Science  (VoYS) decided to put some of these claims to the test – and #AskForEvidence!

To point out just how outlandish and ridiculous some of these fad diets are, the VoYS early-career researchers made up some of their own diets, and challenged the public to tell apart the made up diets from the real ones. Have a go here! I certainly found it surprisingly difficult to tell a real diet from a joke one. To add some science back into the exercise in making fun of diet fads, the VoYS members gave their verdicts on the diets – real and made up. The result – many of them are silly, and some are downright dangerous!

This is a very fun and insightful way of pointing out the lack of evidence for the incredulous claims made by the diet industry. This is also very accessible for the general public to use, and has been featured in national newspapers, as well as on radio and TV. This aims to show that you don’t need to be a scientist to understand the evidence – or lack thereof – behind these weight-loss and health fads. Maybe next time you see an outlandish claim for a fad – dietary or otherwise, this will inspire you to take a step back and consider the evidence.



Alice Buchan

I'm Alice, a fifth year medical student at the University of Oxford. I did my 'intercalated year' focusing on immunology. At the moment, my particular interests are in immunology, reproductive biology, and obstetrics. View more posts from Alice

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