When it comes to nutrition and novel ingredients that appear on our social media feeds, it's good practice a healthy dose of skepticism before adopting the next new fad in ingredients and nutrition.
This was advice shared during an influencer marketing panel at NutraIngredients-USA's Sports Nutrition Summit held in San Diego last month where industry experts discussed the lack of science, credibility, and education on social media when it comes to posts around wellness ingredients such as CBD.
As panelist Dr Shawn Arent, Professor and Chair of the Department of Exercise Science at the University of South Carolina and Director of the U of SC Sport Science Lab, noted during the panel discussion.
“What I’m worried about is the claims, especially when you have influencers who don't know what they are talking about. So there’s a credibility factor that I think companies have to be really careful with. There’s a big problem when the claims start to outstrip the science. When I see companies spending more on their social media side than they are on the actual science behind the projects, on my end, that’s tough, that’s really hard to see."
CBD outranks other social media wellness trends in research
According to the analysis of online healthcare provider, Babylon Health, there are 501,000 Google Scholar articles on CBD for the more than 8 million Instagram posts where #CBD is tagged. That would make it the most well-researched of Instagram's most popular wellness trends.
In comparison, #CleanBeauty – a movement promoting the use of skincare products free from ‘toxic’, ‘nasty’, and ‘suspicious’ chemicals – only has 475 Scholar articles linked to its nearly two million Instagram posts.
And while the research behind CBD is still developing and leading to new health findings, general practitioner and medical copywriter for Babylon Health, Dr Claudia Pastides, noted that consumers should still exercise caution when getting their nutrition advice from social media.
“There are many claims out there around the benefits of CBD, from it being a cure for cancer through to relieving anxiety, pain or insomnia. Unfortunately there isn’t enough evidence out there to support all of these claims... there aren’t enough good-quality studies out there just yet on what doses should be prescribed, what the side effects are, how CBD interacts with other prescriptions and what the long-term effects might be on our health,” said Dr Pastides.