Beware of social media health disinformation


Man working out while recording himself for social media

 

Steve Washburn, PTA


With a vast majority of people turning to social media platforms on a daily basis to read, discuss and even create news, it is difficult to sort through all of the information and disinformation that appear on the various digital sites.


And with the Covid-19 pandemic skyrocketing society’s concerns and questions about staying fit, social media have become a person’s go-to source for all things on the subject of health and wellness. While the availability of health-related information is valuable, it also needs to come with a warning sign. The lack of peer-reviewed sources often results in misguided and inaccurate content as health and wellness influencers with thousands of followers push their own narrative. While in most cases this is done with good intentions, some messages are for self-serving reasons, hyping conflicting diets and various different styles of exercises and workout plans.


One of the more popular trends on social media is the so-called Fitspiration movement. Fitspiration registers more than 90 million hits on Instagram and shares advice on health and fitness. Unfortunately, most of the posts seem to be an influencer’s personal opinion as opposed to evidence-based research. This may lead to people taking the influencer’s advice on consuming supplements or engaging in high-risk exercises that can lead to an increased risk in injury or deterioration in overall health.


Even though a video or article may garner thousands, if not millions of views, it does not mean the information is valid or even safe. It is important to always consult with health-care professionals who are familiar with your health history before attempting a new fitness or diet trend. Otherwise, increased risk of injury or adverse health conditions can occur.


Photo credit: <a href="https://www.freepik.com/photos/sport-training">Sport training photo created by freepik - www.freepik.com</a>

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