Pinterest Bans All Weight Loss Ads : NPR

Helena V Berbie

Pinterest is banning weight loss ads to address concerns about eating disorders.

Rich Polk/Getty Images for Pinterest

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Rich Polk/Getty Images for Pinterest

Pinterest is banning weight loss ads to address concerns about eating disorders.

Rich Polk/Getty Images for Pinterest

Pinterest is saying goodbye to weight loss ads. It’s banning them altogether, becoming the first major social platform to do so.

The National Eating Disorders Association guided Pinterest in updating its policy as searches for healthy eating, healthy lifestyle and fitness tips grew within the past year.

“A lot of people are facing challenges related to body image and mental health, particularly as we’re emerging from COVID restrictions,” says Sarah Bromma, the company’s head of policy. “People are now feeling added pressure to rejoin their social circles in person for the first time in a year.”

Pinterest is not the only company to restrict weight loss content. Both Instagram and Facebook clamped down on ads for “miracle” diets and weight-loss products in 2019, but Pinterest is the first to ban these ads completely.

It’s an expansion of Pinterest’s existing bans on ads containing before-and-after weight-loss imagery, weight-loss procedures and appetite suppressant pills. Ads promoting healthy lifestyles or fitness services will remain.

Pinterest is a social media site where users can save images of décor, fashion, recipes and craft ideas to collections they curate. It’s a virtual pinboard, essentially. Users can search for almost any topic and find thousands of images to bookmark for inspiration.

The world’s 14th most used social platform, Pinterest’s user base skews young and female. Its key ad audiences are women between 25-34, according to a 2021 report from social media management platform HootSuite.

Pinterest has a history of closely monitoring content displaying harmful messaging. Users searching for keywords related to eating disorders, suicide or other mental health concerns are redirected to recovery or mental health resources.

Weight loss imagery isn’t the only content restricted from the platform’s ad services. Pinterest also prohibits ads for drugs, endangered species, tobacco and illegal services, and content containing excessively offensive language or adult content.

Savannah Sicurella is an intern on NPR’s business desk.

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