Dietitians know all too well that the New Year sparks a huge amount of interest in lifestyle and diet changes. And, it’s easy to see why, especially after the festive period. Brands use this time to prey on potential customers and encourage them to think they need to invest in a new product or new diet.
This year we are saying No Thank You though. We want to push positive messages around food and lifestyle. We want the public to understand the dangers of fad diets and to think less about restriction and what they need to be spending their money on and more about what they can add to their plates and to think about positive health outcomes that don’t solely focus on weight loss.
We are asking the public to be incredibly critical of the advice they are reading or watching and to avoid investing in anything that claims to offer a quick-fix weight loss solution, because in reality they could be doing more harm than good.
We also want more responsible marketing of products and for brands and so-called experts to be held accountable for their claims and we want our members to support in reporting misleading and incorrect information.
Registered Dietitian and BDA Spokesperson Marcela Fiuza says, “For many people the new year is a good opportunity to set goals and intentions, including to improve health. However, new year’s resolutions that focus on weight loss as a primary outcome can often lead to yoyo dieting or weight cycling, which can be detrimental to health.
“New year’s resolution diets can also be triggering for those with eating disorders and can lead to disordered eating.”
Another Registered Dietitian and BDA Spokesperson Nichola Ludlam-Raine says, “Psychologically, it can be really damaging to people’s self-esteem, making people believe that they are not good enough as they are, and that they have to conform to perceived society ‘ideals’ and have to make changes at this time.
“The truth is quite the opposite - and we must work on people’s self-esteems in order to make positive changes to dietary intake, focussing on what we should be eating and doing more of, like increasing fluid and fibre, rather than focussing on restriction.”
1. Report any ads that don’t reflect the evidence-base to the ASA. They could well be breaking the CAP Code and action can be taken. Here are some things to think about:
Take a look at our Ads & Fads page for more information about the Code.
2. Share BDA resources including the Fad Diet Food Fact Sheet.
3. Write Letters to Editors if you spot misleading information in the media.
4. If you see an unregistered person claiming to be a dietitian, raise a concern with the HCPC.
5. Be careful not to over-simplify your message especially using Twitter where your characters are limited.
6. Place a disclaimer on your social media accounts about the scope of your nutrition news and tips, so it can't be misinterpreted as individual health or medical advice.
7. Report any offending social posts by others to the platforms directly.
8. Flood the internet with positive messages about food.
Please download and use these resources with your patients and clients and across your own social media channels to help spread the message!
Social media graphic (5 part PNG)
Diet red flags to look out for A4 PDF poster
Social media graphic (5 part PNG)
Combating diet misinformation A4 PDF poster