The Goop “Lab”

Hey, it’s a new year, let’s peddle more bullshit “wellness” to the adoring masses.

Let’s hear from Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Alberta:

This has been the decade of misinformation. And, in the context of health, celebrities have led the charge.

It’s an easy buck, you know? You’re famous so people will buy what you market, so why waste the opportunity?

We’ve had the vagina steam (thanks, Gwyneth), jade vagina eggs (ditto), the vampire facial (Kim Kardashian West), bird poop facials (David and Victoria Beckham), facials made with discarded foreskin stem cells (Sandra Bullock), drinking your own urine (Madonna), placenta smoothies (more Kardashians) and too many crazy diets, cleanses and detoxes to mention. I could go on and on and on.

Bird poop facials. Nice.

But does it matter? Yes.

Celebrity health noise has had (and continues to have) a large and measurable impact. There is a growing body of literature that has demonstrated celebrity marketing, musing and news coverage can have an influence on a range of health related behaviors, including dieting, cancer screening, smoking and suicidePop culture coverage of a health topic, like Angelina Jolie’s decision to get genetic testing, can affect, for better or worse, the utilization rates of health services. And there seems little doubt that many current evidence-free and potentially harmful health trends — such a IV vitamin therapy, nonceliac gluten-free diets, cryotherapy and detoxification diets and procedures — would not be nearly as popular but for the associated celebrity endorsements.

Of course, this decade of celebrity health hogwash should also be considered in the broader context. This is the era of misinformation, a time when trust in public institutions is declining and people feel uncertain about what to believe about, well, everything. Celebrity wellness hype contributes to this “culture of untruth” by both inviting a further erosion of critical thinking and promoting what is popular and aspirational rather than what is true.

Truth matters, dammit.

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