With so much information available on weight loss, nutrition and exercise it can be overwhelming and exhausting to sift through it all yourself. Perhaps it’s time to look for a lifestyle expert – Wesley LifeShape Clinic have a team of qualified people ready to help you.

There is currently an epidemic of social media “experts” whose methods and information is based on opinion, instead of scientific fact and research. If you’re looking to maintain a healthy weight safely and for the long term, it is always best to seek expert advice from a trusted, qualified source.

We spoke to Dietitian Kate Pollard from the Wesley LifeShape Clinic about how to decipher fact from fiction when you’re gathering information for your health journey.

She pointed out that when you are looking on social media, it’s important to remember these self-proclaimed or celebrity experts just take from what they have done in the past and promote the concept of “I did this, you should too!” without any scientific and qualified backing.

“More often than not, these self-proclaimed experts overlook the fact that everyone is different, with different dietary and exercise requirements” Kate explains. “It is becoming more common for people provide advice without any understanding of the nutritional requirements of an average person. It is more relevant than ever where these days anyone can push out an opinion to the world with little more than an attractive photo.

“You wouldn’t let just anyone fly a plane, but because people have their own experience when it comes to eating – based around their own image – they feel qualified to give their own recommendations to others based on unqualified advice. This can be very dangerous, especially if people have pre-existing or undiagnosed medical conditions.

“Instead of focusing on health and sustainable eating and living, the focus is too often on restriction aka diets – which inevitably fail.”

Kate spoke about the benefits and drawbacks of such easy access to information and acknowledged that it’s great that people are taking more of an interest in their health, although in some parts there is also a significant focus on body image over health. 
“Social media can and is used by plenty of qualified health experts, however plenty of the influential social media are based on image – not expert opinion and their following becomes almost cult-like. Make sure you find out what professional qualifications an author or social media personality have – you want the best for your health, so find experts who are at least university qualified – meaning they have studied in the field for a number of years.”

She also touched on the rise of social media fitness ‘inspo’ versus qualified experts and the dangers that surround this rising trend. “It makes it hard for qualified experts to help get the right messages out there, particularly when the media also focuses on ‘celebrity experts’. The internet has provided a platform for anyone to become an unqualified ‘expert’ – which also leads to ‘their opinion’ being right over, and at the exclusion of, any other potential opinion. To keep their relevance, these ‘gurus’ often need to continually go further and make more drastic claims to keep their audience – because it’s based on an image not scientific research.”

So where can you go to find reliable information and advice? Qualified accredited experts are best.

“For dietetic advice, seek out an Accredited Practising Dietitian or for exercise, an Exercise Physiologist, who both have minimum four year tertiary degrees in this field. Their accreditation bodies also require a minimum amount of professional development each year. Often, the best approach is a coordinated team effort from a range of these qualified health professionals.”

There are plenty of free resources written by qualified health experts – such as Medibank, Foodwatch, or the Wesley LifeShape Clinic’s monthly newsletter filled with health tips written by their clinical team.

To sign up for Wesley LifeShape Clinic’s free monthly health newsletter, or to read more articles written by their clinical team, visit their website.

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