Instagram is rolling out a new policy focused on restricting content related to diet brands, weight loss products, and cosmetic procedures. This includes restricting posts that encourage users to buy ‘laxative’ diet teas, shakes and lollipops. From now on, posts trying to sell these “miracle” diet products, or any pseudoscientific promotions will only be shown to 18+ users.
For far too long social media has failed to regulate this sort of content. The trouble is, so many under-qualified people are giving out “nutritional advice” on Instagram which is alarming when 21% of young people refer to social media to find information on healthy eating (according to a study by Sainsbury’s). Literally anybody can set themselves up with a profile claiming to be a nutritional expert and then proceed to sell unnecessary and harmful products to young people who simply have no reason to question it.
After some key players in this space have campaigned and made some real noise about this issue, action has now been taken! Hopefully, not only will it protect young people’s purses, it will also hold these companies accountable for how they’re trying to normalise disordered eating and make millions convincing us to see our bodies as the problem.
Have an appetite? Here’s a lollypop to suppress it.
Have cellulite? Here’s a cream to get rid of it
Have belly fat? Here’s a pill which will burn it off.
Appetite? Cellulite? Fat? THESE THINGS ARE NORMAL. And the products being sold to ‘fix’ them are a complete scam. But influencers with their perfectly edited photos will help to sell them for a cute fee, most of the time knowingly lying to their audience.
We must all carry on this fight against a culture of influencers and celebrities emerging as authorities on nutrition and health. Having a large following and a certain body type is simply not enough to replace a registered nutritionist and dictate what others should be eating. Surely there is a responsibility to ground their promises in evidence!?
This is a huge step forward but there’s still a long way to go before this is fully regulated… but we can all help that happen. From today, you can now report an Instagram post under the reason of ‘False Information’ which means that YOU can start to make a difference here, too! This means that accounts like @medicalmedium (who makes completely un-supported claims around nutrition) will potentially be shut down. His account is just one example of an extremely influential page (2.1M followers) built on pseudoscience.
You can check out my new Influencer Vs Nutritionist campaign here where me and registered nutritionist Claire Baseley will be sharing a video each week tackling common nutrition myths pedalled by Influencers… usually for profit.
A spokesperson from Instagram said: “We have given a lot of thought to the impact that the promotion of products on Instagram such as diet teas, supplements and certain cosmetic surgeries can have [on our users]. We want Instagram to be a positive place for everyone that uses it and this policy is part of our ongoing work to reduce the pressure that people can sometimes feel as a result of social media. We will continue to listen to our community and evolve the policy as needed but we believe this a positive step in protecting people on Instagram.”