Social media influencers give bad diet and fitness advice 8 times out of 9 - that's according to Glasgow University who studied self-appointed wellness 'experts' with more than 80,000 followers!
If you're wondering why this is serious, I really feel the need to remind you that influencing people is not something to take lightly. In fact, influencing people about decisions they are making about their health and bodies is about as serious as it gets..I can no longer sit quietly as I watch this space get even more crowded with 'influencers' jumping on and monetising the health bandwagon because it’s the trendy thing to do. There are a great many people who have absolutely no business talking to others about how to get healthy. I'll go as far as to say it’s dangerous!.In the research, they found some 'influencers' touted opinion as fact and failed to provide any evidence for claims. Not one of their recipes met Public Health England targets or traffic light criteria, yet I'm very proud to share that just one person passed - a certain Registered Nutritionist (RNutr) @AFN_ regulated and bound by a strict code of conduct and ethics ensuring evidence-based advice is only ever shared.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for anyone sharing their own journey in life, and that 100% includes their health. I personally love to hear about what has worked or not worked for people, recipes they love to make, what brands they enjoy, what classes motivate them to workout, or even their favourite leggings. I also love when people share stories of overcoming illness, or getting through injury, or any other personal health journey they’ve been on - some I know have even built entire platforms around sharing their journeys. it’s beautiful and inspiring that these are people who can give real, deep, meaningful, and helpful advice based on their own experiences.
But, not everyone talking or writing about health needs to be an expert. In fact, an entire army of incredible journalists that I'm lucky to work with, write about health every day and these intelligent, experienced people are filled with immense knowledge. However, even they will tell you that they are journalists first, and not experts.
The number one rule for me is that you must be honest about what you know and don’t know. - not doing so is irresponsible and impressionable people of all ages are listening. It reminds me that Instagram was recently ranked as having the most detrimental effect on young people’s mental health according to The Royal Society for Public Health - this is really serious stuff. Everyone on social media should be required to meet accepted scientifically or medically justified criteria for the provision of health advice online.
So, I would like to challenge all of you out there! Do you really know the credentials of the people you are taking health advice from? If not, you should really ask. It is so easy to get fooled by cute outfits, aesthetics, and verified followings. It's even easier to think that just because someone is getting paid to post or show up at events, that you should be taking advice from them. Please know, in most cases, that has more to do with engagement than education, and it’s important that you know the difference!
And let me tell reassure, there are some fantastic, true health professionals online who have studied, trained, worked hard to know what they know. These are the people you should be taking advice from and it has been one of my greatest pleasures to learn myself from these people, and bring you to them in the form of my podcast Food For Thought. If you haven't tuned in yet, the link to the latest episode is in my bio..It’s time for all of us to be truly honest and take responsibility for our parts in sharing advice online, and I promise you that I will continue to do mine.
Please read Instagram responsibly.
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