UK study shows we cannot trust influencers – what should we do about that?

If you have been on the internet in the past week or so, I am about share will probably not come to you as news – but, according to a study conducted at the University of Glasgow, only one out of nine UK bloggers actually provided accurate information about their health and weight management.

“We 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,” said the study’s lead author Christina Sabbagh. “This is potentially harmful, as these blogs reach such a wide audience.”

About the study

All influencers were examined to see if the health and diet claims made by them were transparent and backed up with evidence. Each influencer was analysed and then had their information and content scored based on 12 areas.

The findings from the study showed that the majority of them failed in fundamental areas, which of course raise some questions and concerns.

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.

Building trust is possible

Chairmen of the National Obesity Forum, Tam Fry, added thoughts about the study online:

“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. Particularly unfortunate is that the genie is now firmly out of the bottle and getting these bloggers to conform to standards, though desirable, will be nigh impossible.”

This is where we see the issue laying. If we do not strive to support bloggers and influencers to learn how to provide, share credible and reliable content, we are simply brushing everything under the carpet and throwing our hands in the air. 

If you know me, this is definitely NOT how I roll. I created a community of thousands of bloggers and influencers, and I truly believe in the power of education.

Educating is key – just thought I’d repeat that to add some gravitas. 

I believe (and have witnessed) bloggers and influencers starting global campaigns, publish insightful and life-changing books and create amazing products and I trust that with clear direction, guidelines and standards, they will be able to provide accurate information.

What is the solution?

This is why I decided to create yet another brand, and partnered with our besties at Wellspoken to setup ROHWI– the register of health and wellness influencers.

No, I am not talking about magic wands and click-of-the-fingers solutions – however, it marks the beginning of basic regulation to the wild west nature of the wellness that many in the industry have profited from.

The reality is, we as consumers of health and wellness information need to also take action and there are some simple steps we can take to separate the wheat from the chaff.

As co-founder Sarah Greenidge shared on the TBP website “when it comes to influencers, it’s important to differentiate what is opinion and what is backed by evidence. While there is an infinite number of ways in which credible content can be curated, their training and framework to which everyone can adhere, ultimately raises existing industry standards and ensures that the fundamental aim of all health and wellness information is achieved.”

Are you an influencer or blogger who wants to make a difference?

Please, share this article and let’s start a conversation about this topic together.

For more information and to become a registered health and wellness influencer please visit: https://rohwi.org/