There’s bullshit health advice everywhere, but you’d hope that when you follow someone on Insta who looks legit — lots of followers, blue checkmark, solid-looking advice on a blog — you’d get the good stuff. Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of crap out there.
Recently, researchers announced that eight of the UK’s top nine fitness influencers failed a test they put together to determine whether an account gives “credible” fitness advice. All of the influencers had 80,000 or more followers, were verified on two social media networks, and had their own blog with articles and recipes.
The researchers looked for signs that the accounts were using evidence-based recommendations, and that their recommended recipes met UK nutrition criteria. The researchers didn’t name the influencers, though, and they didn’t release full details on the test they came up with. (The research was presented at a conference, not published in a peer-reviewed journal.)
This doesn’t surprise me: there’s a lot of bad advice out there. I’ve seen influencers selling supplements that do nothing (or can be harmful), recommend foods that go against their own nutrition advice (sugary smoothies, for example), and glorify dieting habits and attitudes that look a lot like disordered eating. I’ve seen recommendations on how to “detoxify” yourself, or claims that a particular photogenic food can work some kind of magic on your immune system.
The study didn’t call out Instagram specifically, but bullshit seems to be rampant there. Possibly because we see people giving advice while they stand there look fit and healthy, even though we know that they probably got that look and then built a career to profit off it — they sell whatever sells, not necessarily what worked for them personally. So be careful out there, and keep the same scepticism on social media that you would have anywhere else.