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Pinterest bans all weight loss ads

The image bookmarking site says it won't allow any weight loss language or imagery in ads.

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Pinterest is taking aim at weight loss ads.

James Martin/CNET

Pinterest said Thursday it's barring all weight loss ads as part of an effort to encourage body neutrality, the idea that people should focus on what their bodies allow them to do rather than what they look like. 

The image bookmarking site said it will bar ads that include any weight loss language or imagery, testimonials about weight loss, and products that claim weight loss through something worn or applied to the skin. Advertisers also won't be allowed to post ads with Body Mass Index or imagery or language that idealizes or denigrates certain body types. The new rules expand the site's ad policies, which already ban weight loss pills, before-and-after weight-loss imagery, weight loss procedures, body shaming and unrealistic cosmetic results.

Ads about healthy lifestyles and habits or fitness services and products are still allowed if they don't focus on weight loss, the company said.

Pinterest said body image and mental health has been a focus for the site as the summer kicks off and people start seeing their friends and family again amid the coronavirus pandemic. To create the new rules, the company worked with the National Eating Disorders Association, which has seen a rise in unhealthy eating habits and eating disorders in young people since the start of the pandemic.

Other social networks also have rules against weight loss ads, but Pinterest said it's the only major platform to bar all weight loss ads. Facebook's ad policy says advertisers can't "imply or attempt to generate negative self-perception in order to promote diet, weight loss, or other health related products." Ads including a person showing their abs full or zoomed out would be allowed, but a close up of the abs wouldn't be allowed.

Pinterest said it's urging sites to follow in its footsteps and impose stricter rules. "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," the company said in a press release.