Guys I’m angry.
I know that’s nothing new, but still, I figured it was a good place to start.
My posts hardly ever seem to be shining beacons of positivity, but I guess that’s good, because that’s definitely not me – I’m a pessimistic realist. It’s fun.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of leading a panel discussion at the Health Bloggers Summit. The room was completely packed with people, all keen to hear more about nutrition and health blogging, which was incredible! Based on the title of ‘Nutrition and Nutribollocks’ I can only hope people had an inkling that it wasn’t going to be rainbows and butterflies, and yes there was even a tiny bit of swearing (sorry not sorry).
The key take-home message was that bloggers/influencers need to practice responsible blogging. The panel highlighted some nutrition myths which social media and blogging has helped to thrive (hello alkaline diet), and talked about how bloggers and healthcare professionals such as registered nutritionists and dietitians need to work together and utilise each other’s resources. Bloggers have incredible reach and influence, and nutritionists and dietitians have amazing knowledge and expertise. Combine the two and the whole internet benefits. An incredible example is The Angry Chef, who’s blog has exploded this past year. He gets angry and sweary – which is amazing – but the real power is in the whole team of experts he consolidates to make sure what he shares is accurate as well as entertaining. Basically, we need more Angry Chefs please.
Now, to get to the heart of what’s made me angry. It’s this article:
Now the problem here isn’t bloggers, it’s “experts”. But it’s all linked, I promise.
In this article, we have a bunch of nutrition “experts” (and I use that term as loosely as possible), scaring people out of eating wonderful foods like canned tomatoes, raw kale, and soy milk. THIS IS NOT OK. Please don’t stop eating these foods just because this article says so. It’s a steaming pile of fearmongering BS.
The “experts” in this article have qualifications including ‘friend to Kate Moss’ which we all know is the highest nutrition qualification that exists.
Knowing who’s really an expert and who to trust is so important, and is especially key if you’re a blogger looking to collaborate with a nutrition expert for a blog post, for example. None of the people in that article are registered with the Association for Nutrition (AfN) – the regulatory board for nutritionists – or the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) – the regulatory board for dietitians. This matters, because membership at these organisations is highly regulated, and requires a strictly science-based university degree and consistent evidence-based practice. It’s hard to get in. I should know, I’ve applied for AfN and it took ages to create my portfolio.
The only sure-fire way to ensure that your nutrition expert is, in fact, an expert, is to check if they’re registered with AfN or HCPC (I know I haven’t mentioned BANT, and that’s because I keep seeing BANT-registered individuals saying wrong and sometimes dangerous things online and in the media). Sure, there’s gonna be some bad eggs in there, but the chances are significantly smaller than if you look outside of these regulatory boards. That’s also not to say that everyone registered with BANT is spouting BS, but so far I haven’t seen enough evidence to suggest it’s on a par with the evidence-based degree-level education needed to be registered with AfN or HCPC. That is why I have chosen to register with AfN rather than BANT, and that is simply my personal choice.
I want bloggers to know their limitations and know when to reach out to experts, and articles like this are not helping in the slightest. That’s why I’m angry.