Nurse Gail Ingram cautions readers to beware of internet health hype.
The marketing behind health and wellness is a sore subject for me because I’m pained to see good people being duped. Journalists with no medical credentials would like the public to believe that they are health experts. Their editors write splashy headlines that lure people to read articles. The more hits a post receives, the more advertising dollars the publication can earn. It’s all about the money; not about providing unbiased and accurate information.
Even some medical professionals fall into traps. Our beloved Dr. Oz was recently busted for promoting products on his show that don’t work. He went in front of the U.S. Senate Committee for Consumer Protection and admitted that he got carried away with the hype. He stated that diet and exercise are the best ways to live a healthy life. However, there are only so many ways to relay that to the public before they get bored. Sensational content is used in order to maintain ratings. High ratings lead to increased advertising dollars. Again, it’s all about the Benjamins.
I’m all for preventative health and wellness strategies. Don’t get me wrong. My problem lies with manufacturers of products, advertisers, and unqualified journalists who tout health benefits that just aren’t real. They are trying to get well-intentioned people to buy their products, click on their links to boost analytics, and create hype that will go viral.
For the record, none of the authors at NurseGail.com accept compensation for articles. I was disappointed when a reader commented on my Vitamin B-17 article and told me that I should be ashamed of taking money from Big Pharma to write it. Believe me, if I was in cahoots with Big Pharma I wouldn’t be living in a 600 square foot pre-war walk-up in Midtown. Another reader asked why Keilynn Hopkins didn’t provide specific brands in her running shoe post. This reader didn’t understand that writers who include brands are often getting paid or receive free samples of products.
I write from the heart and give it to you straight. When people post, share, and “like” articles on Facebook that are misleading, I wonder why. Then I remember even my smartest friends are duped by emotion-evoking headlines. Unfortunately, the sensational posts get the most attention on social media and this prompts credible sites to hype up their content in an effort to remain relevant and competitive. So who can you believe?
I can tell you this. Registered nurses and nurse practitioners wouldn’t write for NurseGail.com if it published misleading or inaccurate information. We are a community of experts who scrutinize and fact check each other’s work. We aren’t selling products and we don’t get incentives (financial or otherwise) to write. I can sleep at night knowing that I’ve done my best to make the world a better place. Now if only the world would listen.