Apomediation and Disintermediation: YouTube Prescribers on Fad Diets

Bárbara Castillo-Abdul1, 2, David Blanco-Herrero3, Luis M. Romero-Rodríguez1, 4, *
1 Department of Communication Sciences and Sociology, Rey Juan Carlos University, Camino del Molino 5, Edificio Departamental 1, Despacho 217, Fuenlabrada 28942, Madrid
2 Universidad Espíritu Santo, ESAI Business School. Av. Samborondón 5, Samborondón 092301, Ecuador
3 Faculty of Social Sciencesn University of Salamanca, Casa del Bedel, C/ Benedico XVI, 22 l, 22. Planta baja 37008 Salamanca, España, Spain
4 Faculty of Communication and Arts, Nebrija University, C. de Sta. Cruz de Marcenado, 27, 28015 Madrid, Spain

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© 2023 Castillo-Abdul et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Communication Sciences and Sociology, Rey Juan Carlos University, Camino del Molino 5, Edificio Departamental 1, Despacho 217, 28942 Fuenlabrada, Madrid, Spain; E-mail:



As a result of the confinements of the COVID-19 pandemic and the sedentary lifestyle due to teleworking, there is an increase in weight gain and dietary carelessness in the population, which leads to an increase in offers of fad diets based on recommendations made by digital influencers.


The aim of the study was to examine the characteristics of dietary recommendation videos made by non-health professional prescribers in Spanish and English to understand what patterns are followed by the productions of this type of content and what effects they have on the interaction they receive.


An exploratory walkthrough method analysis was applied to define the variables of a codebook, followed by a content analysis of a sample of 50 videos published between January 2020 and July 2021.


Most of the videos are published in the first months of the year, probably aimed at users seeking to reduce the weight gained during Christmas. The productions were characterized by having a very personal tone, informative and with relatively plural information, sometimes addressing the risks of diets or slimming products, and, although recommendations abound, the voices of experts are not frequent.


The products and diets addressed in the videos often have a high health risk and do not involve practices recommended by experts, so although sometimes their contraindications or associated risks are pointed out, the promotional component and the search for traffic to the channel seem to be more relevant factors than public health in these videos.

Keywords: Health communication, Nutrition, Self-medication, Antiobesity drugs, Influencers, Fast diets, Miracle diets.