Supplements: snake oil versus effectiveness evidence

Posted: January 3, 2011 in science & technology

This image is a “balloon race”. The higher a bubble, the greater the evidence for its effectiveness. But the supplements are only effective for the conditions listed inside the bubble.

You might also see multiple bubbles for certain supps. These is because some supps affect a range of conditions, but the evidence quality varies from condition to condition. For example, there’s strong evidence that Green Tea is good for cholesterol levels. But evidence for its anti-cancer effects is conflicting. In these cases, we give a supp another bubble.

This visualisation generates itself from this Google Doc. So when new research comes out, we can quickly update the data and regenerate the image. (How cool is that??)

This  presentation of statistical data on the effectivness of supplements was created by the guys behind Information is Beautiful: ideas, issues, knowledge, data – visualised!. The original image is interactive, giving specific information on the benefits of the supplements upon mouse-over plus allowing to reduce the number of bubbles displayed based on the health condition and supplement category chosen; to get the interactive effect click here.

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