Course: Critical Analysis of Popular Diets and Dietary Supplements

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Course Description

There is much controversy and anecdotal information about popular diets and dietary supplements, but all too often little scientific or controlled clinical data. We examine the science behind normal mechanisms of weight control, and how weight loss diets are constructed and work. The aim of the course is to acquire the knowledge to critically appraise a weight control diet or dietary supplement and choose the best plan for success, both in the short-term and the long run. Students taking the actual class will, in addition to learning the lecture material presented here, complete in-class assignments where they choose a popular diet or supplement, research the scientific literature on this diet/supplement, and present a critical appraisal of its validity and efficacy.

Course Objectives

  1. Hone analytic skills and critical scientific thinking to make you more informed educators and consumers in the area of dieting and supplements.
  2. Broaden and inform your learning in nutrition by teaching physiology and psychology of ingestion.


American Diabetes Association, The American Dietetic Association: Exchange Lists For Weight Maintenance. Alexandria, VA: American Diabetes Association, 1995.

Anderson et al. (2000). Health advantages and disadvantages of weight-reducing diets: a computer analysis and critical review. J. Am. College Nutr. 19(5): 578-590.

Anderson , J.W. and Breecher, M.M. Dr. Anderson's Antioxidant, Antiaging Health Program. New York : Carroll and Graff, 1996.

Anderson , J.W. and Gustafson , N.J. Dr. Anderson's High Fiber Fitness Plan. Lexington, KY : The University Press of Kentucky, 1994.

Eades, M.R. and Eades, M.D. Protein Power. New York: Bantam Books, 1996.

Ornish, D. Eat More, Weigh Less. New York: Harper Collins, 1993.

Pritikin, N. and McGrady Jr, P.M. The Pritikin Program For Diet and Exercise. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1979.

Sears, B. and Lawren, B. The Zone. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995.

Steward, H.L., Bethea, M.C., Andrews, S.S. and Balart, L.A. Sugar Busters! New York: Ballantine Publishing Group, 1995.

Tsai AG, Wadden TA. Ann Intern Med 2005; 142:56-66.

Valtin, Heinz. "Drink at Least 8 Glasses of Water a Day. Really? Is There Scientific Evidence for 8 x 8?" Invited Review. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 283: R993-R1004, 2002. 8 August 2002.