You might want to rethink following the health advice of an Instagram influencer or self-styled ‘health coach.’
Science says their information, especially when it comes to weight-loss advice, shouldn’t be taken at face value.
A new study from the University of Glasgow says that only one out of nine ‘health and weight-loss bloggers and influencers,’ are offering advice backed by science.
That means the other eight are peddling myths and misinformation.
It sounds far-fetched at first, but think about some of the claims of Instagram ‘wellness’ gurus.
The most high profile was Belle Gibson, who claimed a wholefoods diet healed her brain cancer. She’s currently in a Victorian court explaining why she hasn’t paid her $410,000 fine for misleading and deceptive conduct.
While not in the same league as Gibson, Pete Evans’ controversial beliefs on everything from bone broth instead of breast milk for babies and ‘sun gazing’ have been pilloried by medical professionals over the years.
Instagram is an amazing source of information, but as the study points out, it’s important to ensure that the advice you are following is credible.
It revealed that a high follower count is not the same as credibility. Researchers looked at influencers who had more than 80,000 followers, a blue tick verification, additional social media platforms and an active weight management blog.
Researchers reviewed ‘influencer’ content to see if they backed up their diet advice with credibility factors such as adherence to nutritional criteria, bias and transparency about where their information came from.
Unfortunately, they found only one of nine influencers were credible.
“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”, says the study’s first author, Christina Sabbagh from the University of Glasgow in the UK.
The one influencer deemed credible? A registered nutritionist with a degree.So when it comes to who you take advice from, filter your feed. It’s fine to like images posted by influencers, but when it comes to your health you want to follow the advice of accredited experts; nutritionists, dieticians and doctors.