New Hope Network is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

New Hope 360 Blog

Snake oil or solid science: Visualizing the research behind supplements

This infographic comes from David McCandless at Information is Beautiful. It is a visual representation of the science supporting specific health benefits of popular dietary supplements. The infographic is designed as a “balloon race," according to McCandless.

"The higher a bubble, the greater the evidence for its effectiveness. But the supplements are only effective for the conditions listed inside the bubble," McCandless writes on his website. "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."

According to McCandless, this visualisation generates itself from this Google Doc. So when new research comes out, his team can quickly update the data and regenerate the image.

Aside from being beautiful, do you feel this infographic accurately represents the science supporting popular supplements? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Click on the graphic below to see an enlarged version or "play" with an interactive version of the graphic on the Information is Beautiful website.

  Click to enlarge Snake Oil chart

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.