In an era where social media use is nearly universal among young adults and adolescents, a recent study published in the journal Substance Use and Misuse calls for stricter regulations on advertising muscle-building supplements. The study, led by Kyle T. Ganson, PhD, MSW, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, reveals a concerning gap in the oversight of such content.
According to the research, while content and advertisements related to illegal muscle-building drugs are banned across all social media platforms, there are minimal restrictions on legal muscle-building dietary supplements. This is alarming as these supplements can have negative social and behavioural effects, especially on adolescents and young adults who are particularly vulnerable.
The use of social media has become a staple in modern society, with virtually all Canadians aged 15 to 24 using one or more social media applications. It's estimated that over half of adolescents worldwide spend more than two hours daily on an electronic device, exposing them to a wide range of content and advertisements.
Recent studies have examined the policies of social media companies concerning advertising and user-generated content related to alcohol, tobacco, and unhealthy food or beverages. However, there's been a significant lack of research into policies related to muscle-building drugs and dietary supplements.
The study found that while content related to illegal muscle-building drugs like anabolic-androgenic steroids is banned across all platforms, content related to legal muscle-building dietary supplements such as creatine monohydrate and whey protein faces few restrictions. This finding is particularly stark considering the common use of these dietary products among young adults and adolescents.
"Social media plays a significant role in influencing the use of muscle-building dietary supplements among young people," says Ganson. "Many young people turn to social media for information on the supposed benefits and usage of these supplements. It's crucial that healthcare, public health, and policymaking professionals are aware of this significant gap in policy and how it may impact the behaviours of young people."
The researchers concluded that social media companies need to implement stricter and more explicit content and advertising policies related to muscle-building dietary supplements. They also called for improved oversight of users and advertisers through both algorithms and content moderators.
Given the global reach of social media, the authors suggest that these platforms should consider aligning their policies on muscle-building and dietary supplement advertisements with those of weight loss products. This would involve prohibiting content and advertising that negatively impacts body image and self-esteem, thereby fostering a healthy online environment for future generations.
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In conclusion, stricter rules on social media advertising for muscle-building supplements are necessary to protect vulnerable populations from potential harm. While supplements can play a role in achieving fitness goals, they should be used responsibly and under the guidance of professionals, like the personal trainers near me at Warrior The Centre.