Messages that exaggerate effects

Don’t assume health actions have dramatic, large, easily-recognised effects.

Sometimes people say things they do for their health (health actions) work better than they really do. Claims often exaggerate the effects of health actions.


There are very few health actions that have extremely clear or large effects on everyone that takes them. Most things we do for our health don’t have obvious effects. So, they require fair comparisons with other options to see if they are safe and helpful.


Some health actions have obvious effects. For example, if someone is bleeding and losing lots of blood, it is obvious that it is a good idea to stop the bleeding. However, most health actions do not have such obvious effects. For example, any effects of exercise or changes in diet on heart disease or cancer may occur only after many years and then, only in some people.

Remember: Very few health actions have such obvious effects on everyone that we do not need fair comparisons to know how safe and helpful they are.

Educational resources for this concept
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