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Log On To Lose Weight

Log On To Lose WeightThere is no shortage of weight loss and nutrition advice online, and finding credible information can be daunting. But a team of nutrition experts from Tufts is making the process easier. New York City.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.25.02] As the Internet has become an increasingly popular tool for people who want to lose weight, hundreds of websites have popped up, promising everything from fad diets to expert nutrition advice. Sorting through the information can be a daunting task. But a team of experts at Tufts has created one of the most comprehensive tools on the Internet to help people sift through the best and the worst of the web's nutritional offerings.

"An enormous amount of nutritional information is on the Web, but it can be hard to find. The Center on Nutrition Communications at Tufts ... provides a way to navigate it all," reported The Boston Globe. "It's called Nutrition Navigator. Ask dieticians for their favorite website and most point to this as the very first place to visit."

For the last five years, a team of 40 nutrition experts at Tufts has been scouring the Internet, looking for the best sources of credible nutrition information.

"Nutrition Navigator ranks diet and nutrition websites according to criteria such as the accuracy of the nutritional information and how often the page is updated," reported a columnist from the New Zealand Herald, who described the site as "the best review page" for nutritional information on the web.

Media organizations around the world -- including CNN and the New York Times, have listed Navigator among the best resources available to evaluate online nutrition and health websites.

Tufts' Jeanne Goldberg, PhD-- who directs Tufts' Center for Nutrition Communications at the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition -- says Nutrition Navigator utilizes the professional expertise of Tufts' researchers and faculty to help separate the facts from the fiction.

"People go through search engines like Yahoo and Alta Vista, and that turns up hundreds of pages," Goldberg told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "But that doesn't get them credible sources."

While many sites claim to provide expert advice, many don't deliver reliable information.

"[Navigator] takes aim at sites like and for making unsubstantiated claims, such as the assertions that unwashed vegetables are an optimal source of vitamin B12 and that Vitamin C is a cure-all for asthma, arthritis and back pain," reported the Plain Dealer.

But there are plenty of sites that offer quality information and advice.

Tufts' Jean Baker -- who edits Nutrition Navigator -- talked to CBS' Marketwatch about the kinds of services web users should look for in quality sites.

"[Baker advises people to] access sites with a registered dietician on staff, so you can be sure the information you're getting is accurate, sensible and follows U.S. dietary guidelines," reported CBS.

And if a site requires a registration fee, users should be able to contact a dietician by email or through online chats and bulletin boards.

Most importantly, Baker told CBS, people should be sensible, shop around and avoid spending too much on an online weight-loss program. She said the programs shouldn't cost more than $1 a day.

Goldberg agreed. "I think the bottom line is don't be deluded by bells and whistles," she told the Plain Dealer.

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