These days many social media influencers claim to have the latest diet solution. However, researches have recently warned people to avoid them.
A team of researchers at the University of Glasgow recently found that only one out of nine such influencers give the correct information and solutions.
The health researches took up the study of popular influencers who had active weight management blogs. Most of them were having nearly 80,000 followers in social media. The samples were selected based on verification from at least two authenticated social media sites like Twitter.
One among the team which was lead by the author named Christina Sabbagh said: “These blogs are reached by the whole worldwide audience. Yet, the content provided by them could not be considered reliable. They misrepresented common opinions as facts. They never bothered to fulfill the UK nutritional criteria. Such a situation can create major harms”.
The study does not reveal the names of social media influencers. Blogs published between May and June 2018 by top nine such influencers were studied. In order to ascertain the credibility, these were made to score against 12 criteria.
The analysis was made in the following areas on the health and diet claims published by the influencers:
- Nutritional value
- Evidence-based references
- Role of bias
If influencers scored 70% or more of the criteria, they were considered as having passed. The latest 10 food recipes were examined for :
- Energy content
- Saturated Fat
- Fiber content level
- Salt content
European Congress on Obesity (ECO) which was held in Glasgow took up the findings. These revealed that even most of the so-called leading influencers did not even meet the fundamentals.
Out of all the blogs taken for study, only one scored an overall 75% and passed all the criteria. It was owned by a registered nutritionist. The lowest score of 25% from an unqualified blogger in nutrition.
Hence, the health researchers concluded that these blogs are not a reliable source for weight management. Social media is often referred by people for obesity solutions. Hence, the researchers suggest that the influencers should meet scientific or medical eligibility criteria. Only bloggers who meet such criteria should be allowed to provide weight management advice online.
The chairman of the National Obesity Forum, Tam Fry, has opined that this study has revealed the negative power of social media on health. It shows how even unqualified people can easily post health information which is sincerely believed by their followers.
He further added by strongly stating that the genie is out of the bottle. Things have reached such an uncontrollable stage now. He feels that efforts which are taken to make them confirm to standards are not impossible. However, it would be a tough fight to bring the desired changes. The bloggers would argue for their right to speech. Yet, they cannot defend themselves for publishing unreliable materials. These unreliable facts can cause serious harm to the health of innocent followers.