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How to give real nutrition advice from fad diets

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Nutrition is a hot topic on almost every social media platform.

In fact, it seems almost impossible to open a social media app these days without seeing sponsored content by influencers pitching new supplements, diet programs, or training regimens.

It can certainly be difficult to separate fact from the “fake news” out there, but it’s much easier when you know what to look for.

This article details the risks and dangers of some common social media epidemics and some steps you can take to eliminate bad advice.

Diet and nutrition seems to be a hot topic on many social media platforms in recent years.

From new supplements and diets to cleansers, recipes, workout routines, and “what to eat in a day” videos, there’s more focus than ever on food, health and nutrition.

However, much of this content seems to come from individuals who may not be wholly qualified to offer nutrition advice, such as celebrities and online influencers.

One study analyzed nearly 1.2 million tweets over a 16-month period and found that diet and nutrition discourse is largely dominated by non-medical professionals (1).

Another study presented at the European Congress on Obesity found that only one of the nine most popular weight loss influencers in the UK provided credible and trusted nutrition advice ( 2).

This may seem surprising, but not all information on the internet is harmful and a variety of reputable resources are available to help you learn more about health, evidence-based Remember, we can give you accurate advice.

However, it can be difficult to decide which sources are trustworthy or trustworthy, especially when you don’t know what to look for and what to avoid.

While some stories, posts, or videos may seem harmless enough, many of the fad diets and supplements that pop up on social media can have serious consequences.

For example, officials from the UK National Health Service (NHS) recently took to Instagram to crack down on accounts promoting and selling apetamine, an appetite stimulant often touted by influencers for its ability to improve curves. requested (3, Four).

According to the NHS, no action will be taken against dozens of social media accounts that illegally market drugs that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and are linked to many serious side effects, including liver toxicity. (3, Four).

Online influencers also often promote “detox teas” that claim to boost metabolism, boost fat burning and help rid the body of harmful toxins.

In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint against marketers of well-known “detox” teas, claiming that detox packs help fight cancer and unclog arteries. He said he made various health claims that he did not. (Five).

Additionally, the FTC sent warning letters to 10 influencers who did not properly disclose that they were being paid to promote their products (6).

In addition to unrealistic health claims, these types of products have serious side effects and can even be dangerous.

For example, a case report details the treatment of a 51-year-old woman who experienced severe hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels) after using a commercial “detox” tea product (7).

Similarly, a 60-year-old woman experienced acute liver failure, as well as a range of other symptoms, including jaundice, weakness, and worsening mental status, after drinking a “detox” tea three times a day for two weeks (8).

Restrictive diets may promote eating disorders and mental health issues

In addition to supplements, restrictive fad diets and cleansers are heavily promoted on social media.

Not only do these programs increase the risk of malnutrition and other health problems, they also foster unhealthy relationships with food that can negatively impact mental health (9, Ten, 11).

In fact, the content of many popular creators is often associated with eating disorders, unsafe diets, and other unhealthy habits (such as prolonged fasting, taking questionable supplements, extreme exercise regimes for short-term weight loss due to events). hiring, etc.).

For example, Kim Kardashian recently went viral for sending a dangerous message to millions when she said she lost a lot of weight in a short period of time to wear Marilyn Monroe’s dress to the Met Gala. became (12).

Kardashian’s claimed weight loss rate was much faster than what most experts recommend: 1/2 to 2 pounds per week (13).

Furthermore, losing weight for a particular event is emblematic of diet culture and the pressure to prioritize physical thinness over overall health.

In the past, celebrities such as Kardashian have also been accused of editing their photos on social media and promoting unrealistic beauty standards.

Additionally, many social media trends (such as the “what to eat in a day” videos circulating on TikTok) set unrealistic expectations, promote diet culture, and encourage young people, especially, to be “clean.” ” It can perpetuate an unhealthy obsession with food.

Not all nutrition information on the Internet is reliable. Be aware of a few things that help distinguish good advice from bad advice online.

Check your credentials

Rather than relying on social media influencers to promote supplements and weight loss products, it’s best to get nutrition advice directly from educated, experienced, and trained professionals.

For example, a registered dietitian must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, complete a nutrition internship or conditioning program with a controlled nutrition practice, and pass a written exam (14).

On the other hand, many states do not require formal training for nutritionists. This means that anyone can use this title regardless of experience or education (15).

In addition to registered dietitians, physicians are a valuable source of trusted health advice, and certified personal trainers can provide more in-depth information on fitness and exercise.

Nutrition advice on social media can be tempting because it’s free. However, working with qualified professionals doesn’t have to be expensive.

Many health professionals, including registered dietitians, accept health insurance and Medicare, or adjust rates based on a sliding scale as needed to make their services more affordable.

Avoid sponsored content

According to the FTC, social media influencers must disclose their financial or personal affiliation with brands when endorsing products (16).

This requirement makes it much easier to determine if someone is actually making a true recommendation for a product, diet, or supplement they use.

In general, use caution when sponsored content appears in your feed.

If you try a product someone recommends or want to learn more about it, be sure to See reviews from real customers or medical professionals to find out if a product is trustworthy and safe.

Beware of unrealistic claims

Many diet products and supplements are backed up by claims they believe are too good to be true.

Any diet, pill, or other product that claims to help you lose a lot of weight quickly should be avoided at all costs.

In fact, both weight loss supplements and crash diets have been associated with a long list of adverse health effects and are unlikely to lead to long-term sustainable weight loss (.17, 18).

Look for terms like “cure,” “first aid,” and “immediate action,” and watch out for health claims that sound unrealistic, unsustainable, or unhealthy.

avoid restricted diets

Many popular diet programs are very restrictive, often eliminating nutritious ingredients or entire food groups.

Some companies market these fad diets in an attempt to profit from consumers looking for an easy way to lose weight or improve their health.

However, in addition to being ineffective in the long term, crash diets can have serious health consequences and may increase the risk of eating disorder (Ten, 18).

Avoiding an overly restrictive diet and enjoying your favorite foods in moderation as part of a nutritious and balanced eating pattern is a much better approach to promoting weight loss and overall health. .

Learn more about why these “fad diets” don’t work and how they can harm you in this article.

With more and more excitement in health, wellness and nutrition, it’s important to be more selective about where you get your information from.

While it may seem harmless and easy to pass by, many of the products and trends advertised on social media platforms can have serious health implications.

Get information from reputable sources, avoid sponsored content, and avoid restrictive diets and products that sound too palatable.