Diet bestsellers rarely written by nutritionist

Research, published by the leading scientific journal Nature, shows that of all dietary best sellers, only 8.4 percent are written by nutritionists (“dietitian” and “nutritionist”).

Health books

Many people seek information about healthy eating and health and therefore buy books on these topics. In a surprising study, the top 100 bestsellers in this field in the United States were examined. The researchers looked at the content, the claims of the books and the knowledge and background of the authors.

Common factor: weight loss

The weight loss promise is the common factor in the bestsellers. However, the dietary advice in the books is very different. The books often contradict each other. For example, in one book whole grains are recommended and in other books they are not recommended.

Background authors

The researchers then scrutinized the 83 authors of the top 100 bestsellers (some authors had written multiple books, hence 83). Only 8.4 percent of the authors were nutritionists. The other authors had various courses and fields, from physician, personal trainer to actor and blogger. The Nature researchers also looked for authors’ scientific publications and found quite a few cases of questionable or withdrawn scientific publications and sometimes even lawsuits. Some authors were entrepreneurs and used their books to market their own products, such as diet products and supplements.


The authors of the Nature article find it confusing that the books disseminate conflicting information. They also believe that the general public should know more about diet book authors.

Medics and nutrition

Medical students in the Netherlands have so far only been taught an average of 29 hours on nutrition and dietetics during their 6-year course. During physician training in the United States, the number of teaching hours devoted to nutrition and diet is at least 25 hours. Students of medical studies, both national and international, indicate that they feel that they have insufficient nutritional knowledge and skills to effectively support nutritional behavior change in their patients.

Best choice diet book

So pay attention to “who” wrote and published the diet book and on the basis of which research or science the author wrote his or her book.

As far as I am concerned, the best choice is one of the books by I’m a Foodie. I’m a Foodie is an independent Dutch food collective that is formed by nutrition and health scientists who share their knowledge about healthy food. Since 2016, the team has written a new book every year, combating deception, substantiating their books and blogs with the latest scientific knowledge and making the translation into practice. The diet and health books published by I am a Foodie are highly recommended.