Bloggers must post a disclaimer if giving unqualified nutrition or fitness advice online.
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The Bodywhys Ireland website quotes that an estimated 400 new cases of eating disorders emerge each year in Ireland, representing 80 deaths annually. Social media may have a strong influence on a person’s relationship with food, fear of gaining weight, obsession with exercise, or an unhealthy obsession with “clean eating”. This can sometimes be attributed to social media bloggers or “influencers” preaching nutrition and fitness advice online without a relevant qualification.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, if someone is not a qualified dietician, doctor, personal trainer or accredited nutritionist and they are going to tell followers what to eat, what supplements to take, or what workouts they recommend, there needs to be a disclaimer that it is actually just their opinion.
NUTRITION: In terms of nutrition, influencers advise on cutting out entire food groups, fasting, bulking, upping and lowering protein intake, gluten free and dairy free diets, “good” versus “bad” foods, supplements, and general fads. The misinformation can sometimes encourage an obsession with clean eating, which in turn can lead to orthorexia and other disorders.
FITNESS: With regard to fitness, people are left blindly working out without real life guidance or safety warnings. Influencers offer tips on specific workouts without knowing the individual they’re preaching to, that person’s medical history, weight, or overall ability and needs.
We need stricter regulation and we need it now. The blogging industry is growing by the day, yet legislation does not seem to be keeping pace. Enforcing a disclaimer on unqualified nutrition and fitness advice on social media is the least that can be done to protect the mental health and wellbeing of our young people.
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