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What can we learn from Pete Evans?

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Pete Evans certainly knows how to make a name for himself. From being a celebrity chef to an advocate of the Paleo diet, controversy follows him every step of the way. While the nutrition community moans and groans when another celebrity endorses a fad diet, there is something different with this situation. Many posts from his Facebook group have stirred up comments from healthcare professionals who are worried about the lack of evidence behind some of his statements. In return, many from his ‘tribe’ have attacked such questioning by labeling health professionals as outdated and narrow minded. These exchanges and debates, though somewhat entertaining, provide a very stark reminder for health professionals when engaging in social media.

When you’re a health professional engaging in social media, be mindful of what you say or write.
You are representing, not only yourself, but your entire profession. Keep your comments factual and evidence-based, without bringing in personal comments or attacks on another individual (or health professions). Even if things get deleted on social media, they will always still be there. Particularly as people discover the power of screenshots. Be mindful that things you have said on social media can come back and haunt you or used against you in legal situations.

Always present a balanced argument and disclose any conflicts of interests.
Education is about providing people with the knowledge to make informed choices. Deleting comments and blocking people who present different views and perspectives only goes further to lower credibility. It’s also your responsibility to disclose any information, which may have influenced your opinions. Keep things transparent, which will show others that you are honest and trustworthy. Finally, make sure you can back up your facts with peer reviewed evidence-based research when it comes to health topics. Discussions like these are not about outsmarting others. People’s health and lives are at risk here.

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Pancreatically challenged, diabetes advocate, PhD student and dietitian - working to positive changes within the diabetes community and healthcare setting. Although diagnosed at age of 19 with T2DM, the type of diabetes I have is under constant debate. Finally pumping as of March 2014.

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