If you’re not an avid Marie Claire reader (no judgment), you may have missed The Hunger Diaries: How Health Writers Are Putting You at Risk, a recent article that outlines why today’s hugely popular health and fitness blogs are normalizing a culture of body-obsessed, eating-disordered workout addicts. In the article, reporter Katie Drummond discusses six top bloggers who organized a “Health and Fitness Summit” in August: Kath Younger of katheats.com, Tina Haupert of carrotsncake.com, Meghann Anderson of graduatemeghann.com, Caitlin Boyle of healthytippingpoint.com, Heather Pare of hangrypants.com and Jenna Weber of eatliverun.com, critiquing them for what Drummond calls “an arguably unhealthy obsession with food, exercise, and weight.”
Ms. Drummond wonders if the bloggers, who regularly post about their diets and exercise routines, are really a model of healthy living, or whether they may be encouraging some unhealthy behaviors amongst readers. She argues that their actions are far from balanced, citing posts about “food sabotaging” (eating a small portion of food and ruining the rest to keep yourself from eating it), reports of being hungry, or feeling badly about missing workouts.
But the real threat of these blogs is their influence on readers, according to Drummond. She worries that the bloggers’ detailed accounts of dieting and exercising could translate into encouragement of disordered behavior among readers, rather than providing a more balanced perspective on issues of weight and health.
Drummond’s article is, in many ways, convincing — the constant blog feedback about diet, exercise, hunger, and training do seem a little over the top. Then again, these are fitness blogs; what else would they be writing about? But we’re not convinced that these bloggers are really responsible for encouraging anyone to eat, exercise, or look a certain way. While the blogs have massive followings, most of the bloggers don’t claim to possess special expertise or qualifications (in fact, their status as “regular women” is probably why so many people like them), and they’re not prescribing workout routines or diets to their readers. And shouldn’t readers (of any blog) accept personal responsibility for their own actions, healthy or not?
What do you think — are health bloggers encouraging their readers to develop unhealthy obsessions with weight, diet, and fitness? Take our poll:
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