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I'm seeing quite a bit questions that are asking: Is nutritional product X bad for me?

The answer to everyone of them is: use them in moderation! Furthermore, most answers these questions get lack a decent argumentation or sources to back it up.

I'd rather see the questions turned around to be more positive and on-topic like:

  • How can I figure out which McDonalds products I can eat while on a diet?
  • What products can I use when I'm on a sugarless diet?

So what do you guys think and how should we handle these questions?


In reponse to MYou's comments on the aspartame question:

How does aspartame not fall under "nutrition and diets"?

It might fall under nutrition, but it has zero influence on your physical fitness. As for the diet part, I don't consider a chemical analysis of aspartame to be related to diets. We're supposed to be giving advice on products assuming they are safe, unless there's proof otherwise. Not supplying the proof of whether they are safe!

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  • Please don't edit your question in an argumentative fashion. Use the comments. – CrazyPenguin Mar 3 '11 at 18:37
  • @MYou I don't think that @Ivo is being argumentative, but rather clarifying his stance. – James Mertz Mar 3 '11 at 18:51
  • FYI there is a health SE proposal that is in commitment phase. – Franck Dernoncourt Oct 19 '14 at 22:38
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The topic of these questions are largely in scope, but these types of questions themselves are generally very poor. There's nothing new here. Just refer back to:

"Guidelines for Great Subjective Questions" from Good Subjective, Bad Subjective.

Asking "How Bad is Soda for You?" is no different (i.e. no better) than asking "Is the Canon SX220 a good camera?" on the Photography Stack Exchange.

For a question to be useful Q&A, there has to be a specific problem someone is trying to solve? This isn't about chit-chat and starting conversations. Food and nutrition questions are on topic if there's an actual, specific question about Physical Fitness involved.

The only one that came close was the peanut butter question. But the rest like "What's the deal with aspartame?" — That not Good Subjective and certainly goes against the sentiments of: Please avoid very broad, beginners' questions during the beta.

But when closing questions asked in good faith, please take the extra time to leave comments politely explaining why those questions are not useful here. It's not always obvious that Stack Exchange is trying to rise above many of these discussions which are common among other forums. Let's not greet new users with contempt. Link to the above discussions, if that helps.

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  • While commenting now during the beta phase is great and I highly recommend, later on as the site develops and gains a greater audience will be very difficult. – James Mertz Mar 3 '11 at 19:50
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    I agree with Robert and I suggest now we have this question we could close and then refer them to this meta discussion in the comment so they can get a better idea of why it was closed and how they can improve if it they want to keep it. – going Mar 3 '11 at 21:39
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In my opinion those questions are pressing the barrier of "health" related material, which I don't think is where we want the site to go.

When looking at the sites FAQ:

Fitness and Nutrition - Stack Exchange is for physical fitness professionals, athletes, trainers, and those providing health-related needs. Topics include exercise and training, nutrition and diets, wellness, and activities related to strength, endurance, agility, and cardiovascular fitness.

While I feel that this statement may be a bit misleading, "health-related needs" I think the pivotal point is what this is all related to (emphasized above). These type of questions do not fall within those bounds.

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When I go to the gym, I always hear trainers mention how much of "being fit" is related to diet. They'll even say it's more diet than exercise.

That being said, how can questions involving the general health benefits of foods not belong on this site? We can't ignore dieting questions.

You can't have the strength, endurance, agility, or cardiovascular fitness without eating properly.

The answer to everyone of them is: use them in moderation!

Seems to me that those questions you linked are more about finding out how much moderation should be taken.

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  • The problem with moderation is 'it depends'. And it depends on a lot of things, which aren't included in the question. But rather it's asking for some general statement, which is simply impossible. – Ivo Flipse Mar 3 '11 at 18:28
  • Isn't that the problem with every health or fitness question ever? – CrazyPenguin Mar 3 '11 at 18:31
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    While I agree that fitness and health benefits of foods are interconnected... it's better to ask with a specific purpose in mind. For example, sports drinks in relation to exercise this I feel is a little more in scope of health benefitsof products, and fitness in general. – James Mertz Mar 3 '11 at 18:50
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Disagree that discussing e.g. aspartame is out of scope for this site. It is not at all obvious or proven that aspartame does not impact physical fitness, as any part of a diet can impact that.

I think the real issue here is that some of these questions are vague. The problem with "is X bad for you?" isn't X. The problem is that "bad for you" isn't specific or well-defined.

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  • Just by taking off "is bad for you" still leaves a question that isn't related to the eventual goal here, fitness and nutrition related to strength, endurance, agility, and cardiovascular fitness. – James Mertz Mar 3 '11 at 19:52
  • I didn't say to take off "bad for you", I said to clarify it. As in, "is X bad for muscular growth?" – G__ Mar 3 '11 at 19:59
  • then that would be more appropriate for the site. – James Mertz Mar 3 '11 at 23:10

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