More Diets, More Weight: Is the Way We Are Using Social Media Leading Us to Obesity?

The effects of social media on the progressively stricter healthy eating are profound. If on one side Instagram and Facebook are having an important role in the positive increase of conscious eating, on the other hand, to always keep the public attention, digital influencers are constantly bringing “new diets” and “new advice”, heading down an increasingly stricter route where eating well becomes a challenge. This is transforming the current diet fads more on the side of extreme, reveals Corpometria Obesity Prevention Institute.

A recent analysis made by doctors from Corpometria Institute, the first center for the prevention of bariatric surgery in the world shows, that the world has never been dieting so much as today. And yet obesity prevalence keeps increasing, in a similar speed as diet attempts. As many as 45 million Americans are always in the on-and-off process of diets. This apparent paradoxical correlation is based on the deluding assumption that dieting automatically means weight loss. For most, diets will bring further over-compensatory weight gain.

“To understand the link between extreme diets and obesity, we should first understand the massive influence of social media on body image. Social media, particularly Instagram, has a direct and strict correlation with self-reported body image satisfaction – in a negative way. The more you are exposed to social media, you are less likely to be happy with your curves and sizes. This happens because the world of social media is a wild place where over-filtered and faux photos prevail, whereas reality is left for the real world. In result, we’ve never been as unhappy with us as we are now,” explains the endocrinologist Flávio Cadegiani, MD, MSc, Ph.D., who leads Corpometria Institute in Brazil. 

According to the analysis of the endocrinologist, the nutritional internet gurus, rarely being health-related professionals, are the strongest tropism for such vulnerable dissatisfied population. The somewhat pathological relationship between the largely frustrated social media addicts and their influencers allowed more and more restricted diets become popular – and frivolous pseudo-scientific explanations satisfy this population with the rhetorical approach of their internet idols.

“An example is the 100% whole wheat foods, including bread and pasta. Although these are great sources of carbohydrates, with low glycemic index, high in fibers, and relatively high in proteins, are now considered as ‘unhealthy’ due to their gluten content. Despite the shortage of scientific backing, a massive population of digital influencers, bloggers, and their audiences are now avoiding gluten at any cost. Many other foods have been ‘reclassified’ from healthy to unhealthy options by the general social media public, without any actual scientific reason,” explains doctor Cadegiani.

One study found that only one out of nine leading UK bloggers making weight management claims actually provided accurate and trustworthy information. This scenario is likely similar worldwide.
“We do not mean that everyone should avoid social media, but to know how to use it. Blogging your weight loss process, for instance, may enhance the results as bloggers tend to feel more motivated with the expectations of an audience,” says Flávio Cadegiani.

The doctor also states that healthy eating must come from a natural improvement in the relationship between food and us. Prohibition enhances the love-hate and addictive-like characteristics of binging. “In conclusion, dangerous diets can be considered an indirect action of screaming for the increasing prevalence of dissatisfaction, anxiety, and depression. Perhaps, instead of fight against the misleading internet influencers, we should focus on understanding why this is happening, and try to help break the motivation behind the pathological moment of extremes. Being healthy does not mean a forever avoiding of the alleged ‘unhealthy foods,’ but the proportion between your healthy and ‘not so healthy’ moments,” believes the doctor.

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