A team from the University of Glasgow has conducted a new study that found 90% of leading bloggers from the UK are making weight management claims that are full of inaccurate and untrustworthy information.
The health researchers studied the country’s most popular influencers who had more than 80,000 followers, verification from at least two social media platforms and who had an active weight management blog.
They 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”.
Five of the bloggers presented their opinion as fact or failed to provide evidence-based references for the nutritional claims they had posted. Five failed to provide a disclaimer and when meals were examined against Public Health England calorie targets and traffic light criteria, no blogger met these criteria.
Of the nine influencers that were involved in the study, the only influencer to pass the researchers’ tough analysis was a registered nutritionist with a degree.
The report summarised their findings by saying, “social media influencers’ blogs are not credible resources for weight management. Popularity and impact of social media in the context of the obesity epidemic suggests all influencers should be required to meet accepted scientifically or medically justified criteria for the provision of weight management advice online.”
Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: “This study adds to the evidence of the destructive power of social media. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can take to the ether, post whatever they like and be believed by their followers.”
The social media stars were not named in the study.