Multiple studies have stated that eating disorders and mental health issues have become more common among young girls in recent years due to exposure to social media.
Diet culture has been forced upon young girls more than ever in recent years, as influencers often advertise weight loss tablets and teas on their Instagram feeds.
These ads are seen by a predominantly young female audience as big accounts that target specifically young women are often the ones behind the adverts, for example, Khloé Kardashian was caught advertising a weight loss tea on her Instagram account back in 2019 and 2020.
The first global review in 16 years, has found that while certain complementary medicines have resulted in marginal weight loss, they do not benefit the health of the consumer long-term and that there needs to be more research into the impact of taking dietary supplements.
Ms Bessell, a researcher said to the BBC that these “herbal and dietary supplements might seem like a quick-fix solution to weight problems, but people need to be aware of how little we actually know about them.”
As TikTok has blown up in the past two years, diet culture has been forced upon young girls, with Chloe Ting workouts trending in the first lockdown and weighted hula hoops trending in the third lockdown at the start of this year.
An eating disorder charity, BEAT, state on their website, that they “we believe approximately 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder, and around 25% of those affected by an eating disorder are male.”
Olivia Harvey, an 18-year-old student at the University of Leeds said, “I got Instagram at the age of 13, and it definitely started a chain of body insecurities for me.”
“At the time there was a certain aesthetic that was trending of really thin legs, collarbones and thin wrists, and at the time I was thinking well that’s trending, there must be a reason that it’s trending, I have to look like this,” Olivia said.
Many young women struggling with their body image feel as if they are unable to escape what many deem to be a toxic environment online.
Olivia added, “it’s sad that seeing that made me change the way that I saw food and how I judged how much I was eating, and I definitely was not eating enough.”
Jameela Jamil has been known to represent the movement to remove the weight loss supplement adverts on Instagram and launched a petition back in 2019 to raise awareness of their danger.
After the petition’s success, Instagram quickly altered the community guidelines on the promotion of weight-loss products, only those over the age of 18 now see these adverts on their feeds.
By Morgan Fotheringham