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Pinterest will ban ALL weight loss ads and images from its site

Pinterest on Thursday said it would ban all ads related to weight loss as it said people right now are feeling pressure about their looks after emerging from COVID lockdown after 15 months.

The site said it hoped to promote healthy eating and discourage unhealthy body image issues as it touted itself as the first major social platform to ban weight loss ads.  

‘Around the world, people of all ages are facing challenges related to body image and mental health, particularly as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and kick-off the summer season,’ the company said in a statement Thursday.  

‘Many are now feeling added pressure as they look to rejoin their social circles in person for the first time in 15 months.’

Still, amid all the self-congratulations the move could be at least part self-interest: Last year, Pinterest’s stock surged after Facebook and Twitter advertisers faced a boycott after they were accused of not doing enough to address hate speech, for instance.

A similar move toward a more ‘sensitive’ seeming site could very well help it again. Pinterest’s stock rose by more than 1.05 percent on Thursday – outpacing the broader market, which gained only 0.5 percent. 

Pinterest wouldn’t tell Forbes how much revenue these types of ads brought in.

Forbes said an ad-intelligence firm, MediaRadar, reported weight-loss brands increasing their advertising spending on social platforms. Facebook alone had a 120 percent rise in advertising spending for weight-loss ads during the first six months of 2021 when compared to the same period last year, the firm said, Forbes reported. 

On Thursday, Pinterest updated its ad policies to prohibit all ads with weight loss language and imagery, being the first major tech platform to ban weight loss ads

Additionally, the sharing and media service will ban testimonials regarding weight loss products; language or imagery that idealizes or denigrates certain body types; and references to Body Mass Index (BMI)

Additionally, the sharing and media service will ban testimonials regarding weight loss products; language or imagery that idealizes or denigrates certain body types; and references to Body Mass Index (BMI)

Along with weight-loss ads, the company said it also would ban testimonials regarding weight loss products; language or imagery that idealizes or denigrates certain body types; and references to Body Mass Index (BMI). 

Pinterest already barred ad content that includes weight loss or appetite suppressant pills, supplements, or other products; before-and-after weight-loss imagery; and weight loss procedures like liposuction or fat burning, it said. 

The platform will still allow brands to advertise ‘healthy lifestyles and habits’ as long as the ads don’t focus on weight loss, Pinterest policy lead Sarah Bromma told Forbes on Thursday. 

‘We know many people come to Pinterest to find inspiration on healthy living and healthy lifestyles and fitness tips, and we’re continuing to allow people to search for that content, if they choose to do so,’ Bromma said.   

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) nonprofit in the United States praised Pinterest’s move.

NEDA's Elizabeth Thompson praised the move

NEDA’s Elizabeth Thompson praised the move

Pinterest policy lead Sarah Bromma said the company knew people came to the site to find' healthy living and healthy lifestyles and fitness tips'

Pinterest policy lead Sarah Bromma said the company knew people came to the site to find’ healthy living and healthy lifestyles and fitness tips’

‘NEDA is encouraged by this necessary step in prioritizing the mental health and well-being of Pinners, especially those impacted by diet culture, body shaming, and eating disorders,’ association Chief Executive Elizabeth Thompson said in a statement.

‘We are hopeful this global policy will encourage other organizations and companies to reflect on potentially harmful ad messages and to establish their own working policies that will create meaningful change.’

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), there’s been a surge in unhealthy eating habits and eating disorders in young people since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. 

This past May, users searched for body acceptance quotes seven times more than in May 2020, and searches for ‘self-love illustration art’ spiked 63 times in the same period. 

Many young adults now feel added pressure to look a certain way as they rejoin society for the first time in 15 months, according to NEDA.         

More than 60% of Pinterest global users are women, reaching 70% of women in the U.S. between the ages of 25 and 54. 

A 2019 study suggested that the more young teens utilized social media, the more prone they were to eating disorders 

Skipping meals and other behaviors related to eating disorders were reported by 52% of girls and 45% of boys who participated in the study. 

While social media wasn’t cited as a direct cause of eating disorders, there is a connection that should be acknowledged and monitored, according to the study.

Pinterest also called on additional platforms to follow its lead with the ban.

‘We encourage others in the industry to do the same and acknowledge, once and for all, that there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all.’

In 2019, Instagram added restrictions on posts promoting weight loss products or cosmetic surgery in an attempt to shield minors from such material. 

A year later, TikTok announced its ban on weight loss supplements and fasting apps as well. 


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