If you’re on the market to receive some bad weight loss advice, look no further than your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter account, says a new study on the matter. According to the research, while influencers on social media have a considerable impact on people’s choices, their posts, blogs and videos are typically neither credible nor trustworthy sources of information.
The findings of the study were recently presented at the European Congress on Obesity (E.C.O.) in Glasgow, which ran from the end of April into the start of May. What the findings showed was that only one out of every nine of the most popular weight management-related bloggers in the United Kingdom met the minimum standards for evidence-based references, transparency, trustworthiness, adherence to nutritional guidance, and bias. The other eight out of every nine influencers were giving bad weight loss advice, according to the researchers.
Social Media is a Pool of Bad Weight Loss Advice
The study outcomes found that the vast majority of weight blogs are far from credible weight management information sources. Often, bad weight loss advice is given based on opinion that is presented as fact. Basic nutritional criteria was rarely met by the recommendations made by these influencers and bloggers.
The research was conducted by a team under lead author Christina Sabbagh from the University of Glasgow. Sabbagh pointed out that “This is potentially harmful, as these blogs reach such a wide audience.”
How the Researchers Reached Their Conclusions
To reach their conclusions regarding the bad weight loss advice being dished out on blogs and social media, the research team conducted a comprehensive online search, including the influence.co website. This allowed them to identify the 14 most popular influencers in the United Kingdom with blogs focused on weight management.
In order to be considered large enough for the purposes of this study, the influencers had to have over 80,000 followers on a minimum of one social media site. They needed to have:
- Blue-tick verification – that is, the blue checkmark that recognizes that they are the official channel for their brand and that they are influential in their field,
- A presence on a minimum of two social media sites,
- Simultaneously and actively kept up a weight management blog.
As a result, five bloggers were initially excluded as less than half of the posts they made were not related to nutrition or fitness. Of the remaining nine, only one was deemed to provide recommendations above the level of bad weight loss advice. Only one passed the test against 12 credibility indicators regarding use of resources, transparency, nutritional criteria adherence, bias and trustworthiness in pass/fail questions with a rating of 70 percent or higher.