Influencers are doing more harm than good and now research backs it up
Dr Nick Fuller
Leading Obesity Expert at the University of Sydney and founder of Interval Weight Loss.
We’ve all suspected it for a long time, but science has now proven that we have long thought – so-called “influencers” advice is all wrong.
Eight out of nine social media influencers peddling their advice and diet products onto their mass Instagram, Facebook and Twitter followings are doing more harm than good, research presented at a leading obesity conference this month shows. The researchers have kept the influencers anonymous, but concluded they are just plain wrong. These findings are especially alarming as they come at a time when more people than ever are turning to the internet and social media for nutrition and weight loss advice.
The team of experts analysed nine of the UK’s most popular influencers weight loss blogs and recipes and scored them against 12 criteria to demonstrate credibility, looking to establish how nutritionally sound and evidence-based each one ranked. Unsurprisingly, all but one failed the test. Only one was found to provide accurate and trustworthy information. The one that passed also happened to have appropriate qualifications in the field and was a registered nutritionist, whilst most others had no training at all.
This research highlights a systemic problem that is not just limited to the weight loss bloggers themselves; it’s also runs rampant through big-named celebrities mistreating their positions of fame. The potential reach of social media has seen many celebrities paid large sums of money to promote various products, many of them diet related. For example, Kim Kardashian has recently been in the spotlight for touting all sorts of unhealthy and dangerous diet products, including meal replacement shakes and appetite-suppressant lollipops.
In an ideal world, influencers or so-called health and wellness experts should have to meet scientific and medically justified criteria for what they are telling people. Until we see this happen, the government have a role in educating the population on the serious dangers of social media and helping guide people towards evidence-based care.