Be wary Of Health And Fitness Advice From Social Media Influencers: Experts

If you search for “fitness motivation” on Instagram, you’ll most likely come across a multitude of gleaming six-packs and flexed biceps.

With your own health goals, you might click on a profile, hit follow, and decide to do “whatever they did” in the hopes of achieving comparable results – which can frequently involve purchasing a diet and exercise program or perhaps a new supplement they are pushing.

However, before you spend any money, experts advise you to avoid making any selections based just on photos or client comments.

Many online content providers share weight loss ideas and other health advice, but this information should be taken “with a grain of salt,” according to Deborah R. Glasofer, PhD, an associate professor of clinical medical psychology in psychiatry at the Columbia Center for Eating Disorders.

Instead, do some research on the person to see if they are an expert in the type of health information they are offering.

“As a clinician and researcher, I would inquire, ‘What is their data?'” ‘What evidence do they have that what they’re proposing to people is useful?’ asks Glasofer. “Have a feel of this person’s qualifications and [ask yourself]: ‘Is this someone I think is in a position to offer me advise based on genuine data, not merely personal experience?'”

According to Aaron Ferguson, personal trainer to actor Will Smith, when looking for training routines, you should ideally seek information from those with experience in the fitness field, particularly those who coach clients.

“It’s quite different when you’re working with other individuals versus just working on yourself in terms of what you learn and how you apply various techniques,” he says.

According to him, the ever-increasing number of health and fitness influencers has both benefits and drawbacks.

“You can acquire a massive amount of expertise from people who have been in the industry for a long time,” Ferguson says. “There’s also the knowledge that sometimes a fourth-grader is the best instructor for a third-grader.”

“It’s a difficult one.”

Spend judiciously

A major protein shake brand sponsors your favorite influencer. As they pose next to the merchandise, their bodies appear shredded.

Isn’t the protein shake the golden ticket?

fitness influencer with protein shake
Millennial girl with mobile phone and bottle of protein shake at gym

Not necessary, according to Ferguson.

He claims that most of the time, followers will not be able to tell whether an influencer has utilized exogenous substances, such as steroids or implants, in addition to their fitness regimen.

“If a person is clearly using an exogenous substance while claiming to be natural in order to give the appearance that a product is a key element in their physique, most corporations will turn a blind eye, knowing that this is most likely the case,” Ferguson adds. “I’m not aware of any corporation that drug tests the persons they sponsor independently.”

Varying Response To Trigger Posts

People can have varying reactions to influencer posts about weight loss and exercise.

People who are battling with or have a history of eating disorders, for example, should be more cautious, especially when absorbing “information on alternative ways of eating restrictively or exercising in an unhealthy manner,” according to Glasofer.

Fitness information and an overemphasis on strength or leanness can potentially be triggering for persons who are at risk.

“What one should aspire for is an overt or more subtle communication of particular body types,” Glasofer explains. “That might cause someone with an eating disorder to scrutinize their body and become too fixated on body type, body composition, and body weight – all of which will jeopardize recovery.”

Risky Business

Not all influencers are certified to provide health services in specific locations, and doing so can lead to severe problems, as evidenced by a recent lawsuit in Texas.

The state of Texas sued social media influencer Brittany Dawn earlier this month, accusing her of providing customized fitness and nutrition plans for up to $300 but essentially selling the same plans to her consumers.

Dawn, who has 466,000 Instagram followers and 247,000 YouTube subscribers, is also accused of deceiving customers into thinking she is competent to aid those suffering from eating disorders.

Dawn denies offering services to persons with eating disorders, according to the lawsuit obtained by Insider, but she claims 14 people complained to her and mentioned the conditions in their official complaints.

According to court records, Dawn created a YouTube video on her recovery from an eating issue and posted links to her diet and fitness programs when she uploaded the video on social media. This prompted some to believe she could devise treatment programs for persons suffering from these conditions.

According to Insider, “the major reason I chose her out of all the trainers out there was simply because she advertised herself as a ‘eating disorder soldier.'”

Consider Everything carefully

A trusted health care professional should be your first stop if you want to reduce a few pounds or attain a specific health objective, according to Glasofer.

“If you’re genuinely concerned about a specific health condition and need to make a change, most of us in the health care sector would not recommend just Googling it,” she says.

“Because it’s such a massive sector [health and fitness], it’s just helpful to perform as much vetting as possible.”

Glasofer, on the other hand, advocates incorporating content other than weight reduction and fitness for a more holistic social media experience.

“I constantly urge people to pursue other hobbies and follow individuals who are influencers about travel, culture, or other things,” she says, “so that this isn’t all you’re seeing when you log on to your account.” “I believe that can help keep things in perspective.”

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