From progress around diet BS and cyberbullying on social media, to the worrying reveal that medical professionals don’t feel confident in giving nutritional support and advice, we round up three of this week’s big headlines that you might have missed
It’s a start: Instagram announces stricter measures on diet and cosmetic surgery content
The leading social media platform has this week announced they will be placing stricter measures on posts relating to weight loss products and cosmetic surgery, whilst ‘miraculous’ weight loss product posts will be removed altogether.
Some posts will be hidden from users identified to be under 18, amongst increasing concerns over the impact the promotion of diet products is having on younger readers.
Activist and actress Jameela Jamil spoke up about the “huge step” this is towards “protecting young people from the perils of the devious diet/detox industry”, expressing that she hopes the next step will be a change in the law.
Amongst the new changes includes the removal of unrealistic ‘get thin quick’ posts and promotions. Young users will also experience restricted viewing for posts created about dieting and cosmetic surgery that offer an incentive to buy. These changes will also be rolled out to parent company, Facebook, which owns Instagram.
Earlier this year, Professor Stephen Powis, Medical Director for NHS England urged social media companies to ban “irresponsible and unsafe” celebrity health product endorsements. He said “Social media firms have a duty to stamp out the practice of individuals and companies using their platforms to target young people with products known to risk ill health. Highly influential celebrities are letting down the very people who look up to them by peddling products which are at best ineffective and at worst harmful.”
The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) Director of External Affairs, Duncan Stephenson, said “It is shameful that major advertisers, leading celebrities – many of who are role models for young people – together with advertisers and social media platforms are complicit in exploiting and potentially putting people’s health at risk, simply to further line their pockets.”
In August, new outrage emerged as a controversial weight-loss app was launched for children as young as eight. Eating disorder experts and parents took to social media to share their concerns over the potential such programmes and apps have to spark obsessive, unhealthy behaviours and relationships with food.
Here’s to hoping this new move from Instagram and Facebook is the first step towards protecting children and teens from toxic diet culture BS.
Bad news: Medical education failing to equip students to provide high quality nutritional care to patients
Despite the rise of diet-related illnesses and health problems, new research has revealed that medical students are not being equipped with the knowledge to provide high quality nutritional care. Today, researchers are calling for an improvement to nutrition education to be integrated into the medical curriculum.
It has been revealed that nutrition education is being insufficiently incorporated into medical education worldwide. This is leaving medical students lacking the confidence, skills and knowledge to provide nutritional care to patients. This was revealed through a systematic review of 24 studies published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal.
Experts are recommending that nutrition education should be made compulsory for all medical students, a global benchmark of the required level of nutritional knowledge should be established, and more funding should be put towards the development of new ways to teach nutrition in medical school.
Around 11 millions deaths each year are attributed to poor diet across the world, making it a leading risk factor worldwide. Many countries recommend that doctors apply nutrition knowledge to support patients in managing lifestyle-related chronic diseases and other diet-related conditions, however these latest findings suggest that nutrition in medical education is lacking.
Author of the study, Dr Lauren Ball from Griffith University, Australia, said: “It is clear that despite the importance of nutrition for healthy lifestyles, graduating medical students are not supported with the required nutrition knowledge to be able to provide effective nutrition care to patients—a situation that has gone on for too long. Nutritional education for medical students must be improved and made a compulsory and meaningful part of the curriculum to support future doctors for the 21st century.”
The review of 24 studies conducted between 2012-18 consistently found that medical students wanted to receive nutrition education to help develop their skills in nutrition care, but perceived that their education did not equip them to do so. It revealed that students not only reported a lack of required nutrition knowledge, but according to one study, half of medical students failed to pass a test on the subject.
In a linked comment, Dr Stephen Davis from the Feinberg School of Medicine said “There is much to learn about the most effective strategies to incorporate nutrition curriculum into medical training. Promising approaches to enhance nutrition education in medical education include integration of nutrition-related topics in lectures on disease pathogenesis and treatment, self-paced online curriculum, teaching kitchens, and greater utilisation of interprofessional education. Identification and training of clinical mentors in nutrition is a key challenge. But what is already crystal clear, is that the worldwide state of nutrition education in medicine is inadequate. Our patients deserve much better. And so does our planet.”
In 2018, it was revealed that mixed messages from health and news sources have been leaving UK adults confused about nutrition. 43% of adults find it difficult to find reliable information on healthy diets, while 76% find that changing information, advice and messages from media and experts are amongst their biggest causes of confusion. With rising concerns over weight related health problems in the UK, it’s clear that there is an ongoing need for better nutritional education for both medical professionals and the public as a whole on how they can begin leading more healthy lifestyles and eating a more balanced diet.
One to download: BBC launches digital wellbeing keyboard aimed at kids
This week, the BBC announced the launch of its Own It keyboard app. Aiming to improve the digital wellbeing of children, the app doubles as a keyboard that can be used across different apps. Through machine learning, the app will visually alert children if they are writing something negative, prompting them to rethink whether or not they want to go ahead with the message.
With the rise in online trolling, cyberbullying, and cyber self harm amongst young people, there is clearly a need for more help and guidance when it comes to navigating, recognising and challenging unacceptable online behaviours.
Through the Own It keyboard, children will be able to keep a diary of their emotions and why they are feeling that way. If the app detects children’s behaviour goes outside of safe, sensible norms, it will offer advice and support. The new app not only lets users know if the comments they are typing are negative, but also promotes the use of positive language.
Director of BBC Children’s and Education, Alice Webb, commented “The digital world is a fantastic place for people to learn and share, but we know that many young people struggle to find a healthy online balance, especially when they get their first phones. Our Own It app gives them a helping hand as they navigate this new experience so that they can make the most of the time they spend on their phones whilst avoiding some of the pitfalls. We’re using cutting edge machine learning technology in a way no one has done before, putting help, support, assistance and a bit of fun too directly into young people’s hands at the moments when they need it most.”
If you are worried about your child’s internet use or behaviours, the Mental Health Foundation launched new guidelines for children earlier this year. If you are concerned that they may be showing signs of cyberbullying behaviour, discover more about what you can do to help and support them in changing these behaviours.
To discover more about cyberbullying and its impact, and to find professional help and support, visit Counselling Directory.
To find out more about how you can take control and lead a healthier, more balanced life, visit Nutritionist Resource or enter your details in the search bar below to find a qualified, experienced nutritionist near you.