Evidence-based medical practice has been put into place as a way of ensuring that health advice provided is as accurate and up to date as possible. Evidence-based medical practice also entails following rules and regulations that are set down by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). While guidelines can be considered fairly general, the exact formulation of the guidelines varies from one medical situation to another. For example, while some patients may be advised to abstain from sex until they are past the menopause, other women may be encouraged to undergo annual examinations. While a general guideline would be for age at first sexual intercourse to be 35 years, the exact guideline for various age intervals or circumstances would depend on the characteristics of each individual case.
Many factors make making health advice a difficult task. One factor that makes giving health advice difficult is the difficulty in comprehending certain situations or personal experiences that may make it seem like a question or concern is irrelevant or even silly. One example of this is a situation where a parent dial 911 for help their child may have breathing problems. The caller is advised not to push it if it is an emergency and to get the child to the hospital immediately. This parent may then ask how long it would take to get the child to the hospital in the event of a medical emergency, believing the answer to be ‘as soon as possible.’
Although the above example illustrates the difficulty in determining what makes something ‘better’ or ‘worse,’ it illustrates an important point. That point is that any piece of advice that a person receives about diet or health is necessarily biased. There is no such thing as ‘fact’ when it comes to diet or health because every single person’s experience will vary from another person’s experience. This means that every piece of advice that a person receives about diet or health is influenced by what that person has already experienced.
Another example of a situation where diet or health advice can be inherently biased is where the health advice is based on a parent response to a question. For instance, a parent may respond to a question about increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome with the comment that if they smoke, there is an increased risk. Although this may be true, the truth is that the increased risk is due to being exposed to second hand smoke. If the parents had never been exposed to smoke, then the same parent response may have led to a different answer. However, if the answer is based on the fact that they smoke, then the health advice given is biased.
Unfortunately, health advice is not always based on factual information. For example, some health advice may be based on studies that suggest one thing but do not actually prove that conclusion. This can happen because the researchers that did the studies may have been influenced by the manufacturers of the products in question. Other times, health advice is based on a study that may only have considered healthy people when attempting to ascertain the effects of diets or exercise on health. However, in many cases, the reasons given are based on a variety of factors and it is impossible to determine whether or not all factors were factored into the calculations.
The above example is one of the reasons that parents should not simply take any health advice offered. Instead of listening to any health advice, parents should do their own research and make sure that the advice is indeed based on facts. Then they should talk to their doctor and get an expert opinion. In some cases, parents may have to take matters into their own hands and try something that is not recommended by their doctor. However, when the advice is truly good and is supported by research, then parents have nothing to worry about.