Don't take health advice from influencers, research warns

Don't take health advice from influencers, research warns

New research has shown that anyone who wants to get healthy may want to avoid following the advice of social media influencers.

According to a study conducted at the University of Glasgow and shared via The Independent, only one out of nine UK bloggers actually provided accurate information about their health and weight management.  

“We found that the majority of the blogs could not be considered credible sources of weight management information, as they often presented opinion as fact and failed to meet UK nutritional criteria," said the study's lead author Christina Sabbagh.

"This is potentially harmful, as these blogs reach such a wide audience."

Distorted reality

None of the influencers used in the study were named, but they were examined to see if the health and diet claims made by them were transparent and backed up with evidence. Each influencer was analysed and then had their information and content scored based on 12 areas.

The findings from the study showed that the majority of them failed in fundamental areas, which suggests that countless social media personalities are sharing inaccurate health information to huge fanbases.

“Social media influencers’ blogs are not credible resources for weight management," the study stated.

"Popularity and impact of social media in the context of the obesity epidemic suggests all influencers should be required to meet accepted scientifically or medically justified criteria for the provision of weight management advice online.”

Chairmen of the National Obesity Forum, Tam Fry, added thoughts about the study online.

“This study adds to the evidence of the destructive power of social media." Fry said.

"Any Tom, Dick or Harry can take to the ether, post whatever they like and be believed by their followers. Particularly unfortunate is that the genie is now firmly out of the bottle and getting these bloggers to conform to standards, though desirable, will be nigh impossible.

"The bloggers will defend their right to freedom of speech to the hilt but publishing junk advice is indefensible.”

Staff Writer