Body image counselor: Instagram policy change is 'step in right direction'

Young users to be blocked from seeing posts promoting weight loss, more

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The social media giant Instagram announced this week it is instituting a new policy to block or totally delete any ads or endorsements of products that promote weight loss or cosmetic or plastic surgery procedures to minors.

Social media sites, particularly Instagram, have become saturated with many advertisements or celebrity endorsements for products promising things like weight loss or improved health.

But many of those products are unproven.

So Instagram will now block many of those posts from being seen by minors or in some cases permanently delete them.

This is a cause championed by one Instagram influencer named Jameela Jamil. On her Instagram page, Jamil posted "As of now, if you’re under 18, you will no longer be exposed to any diet/detox products, and for all other ages; all fad products that have bogus, unrealistic claims will be taken down and easy to report."

Lori Osachy with the Body Image Counseling Center in San Marco said she deals with a lot of teenage clients who have developed eating disorders because of things they’ve seen on Instagram.

“More and more I’m seeing young girls come in (who were) triggered to an eating disorder by a post or a series of posts they were following on social media,” said Osachy.

She said most of the affected teens are female, but this also hits young males -- in a different way.

Osachy said many young males are trying to develop a muscular, thin physique and sometimes develop eating disorders.

Osachy praised the Instagram policy.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea, and I hope they really follow through, and it depends on what they block out and what they don’t, but it’s a step in the right direction for sure,” she said.

But Osachy warned that many teens create what are called “Finstas," which is short for fake Instagram accounts. Many teens create them to either give a false age or to post things that are not seen by their parents.

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