Apr 11, 2023

Qualification of wellness influencers

 Came across this news yesterday that Indian health and wellness influencers must now disclose their qualification on social media to prove that they are qualified to endorse health and wellness-related products and practices.

At a first glance, this seems like a great move. But there are two concerns to be addressed here:

(1) What does qualification here mean? There are certificate courses that you can take up (for a week or two) and become a "certified health coach". Many fitness influencers take up such short-term certification courses and recommend protein shakes, supplements, etc. The qualification criteria need to be spelled out or else this becomes an easy loophole.

(2) The most important one in my opinion - What is the guarantee that the intent of qualified professionals to promote certain healthy(?) products is pure and ethical AND not driven by commissions and profit sharing? There have been so many examples of qualified medical professionals promoting sugar-laden protein drinks, processed oats, digestive biscuits, and whatnot.

Qualification alone doesn't decide whether the influencer has the right intent. What matters is a sense of social responsibility and work ethics. These cannot be measured or declared. These are individual choices and can only be observed through their actions over a longer time.

I have a lot of respect and admiration for doctors working tirelessly with back-to-back consultations without a break.

But there is also a smaller group who think differently. With the popularity of social media and a possible attractive revenue source through sponsored posts, why slog and put in long hours in hospitals? Many qualified professionals use their degree as a mere front end to attract the audience, create content and build a business by doling out advice and pushing sponsored posts in front of their followers.

Qualification alone cannot decide whether the advice or recommendations shared on social media are trustworthy and reliable.

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