TikTok diet videos: why can they be harmful?

TikTok diet videos: why can they be harmful?

TikTok is one of the most popular social networks today. However, the lack of controls in diet videos can be detrimental. For what reason?

TikTok diet videos: why can they be harmful?

Last update: 03 April, 2022

Social networks have a high influence on people. After all, they are mass media. That’s why TikTok diet videos are no exception. In an experiment conducted by the newspaper Wall Street Journal Regarding the social network, findings were made that led to a change in the policies of this platform due to its potential risks.

Specifically, the newspaper created more than 100 bot who surfed the social network. Some registered with less than 13 years. In this way, it was observed that these accounts a wide variety of weight loss, gambling, and alcohol videos were recommended to them. Additionally, some 32,000 pieces of content were labeled “weight loss” and some 11,000 were labeled “eating disorders.”

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a social network of Chinese origin in which short videos are shared in vertical format. It was launched in 2016, but it achieved its greatest success during the pandemic, especially among young audiences.

As in any social network, it has “influencers”that is, people who have a large number of followers and who exert some kind of influence on their behavior. Thus, everything they do or say can be repeated thousands of times.

The drawback is that the algorithm of this platform records the data of individual users and offers them videos that catch their attention. In this way, videos from anyone and not only from followed accounts appear in the suggestions.

Therefore, if a user sees an anorexia video at its beginning and searches for similar videos, the algorithm continues to show them this type of content. Most do not have professional criteria and spread information that becomes harmful.

The problem with diets on TikTok is that many do not have professional criteria and put health at risk.

Influence of social networks on young people

The media has always had a great influence on body image. From television to social media, society has been sold on the idea of ​​an “ideal body.”

Today, in the midst of the digital age, the Internet is the main means of communication, entertainment and interaction. Regarding this, a I study in International Journal of Developmental and Educational Psychology reported that of 2,371 youth, 96% used networks to communicate.

What is worrying about this situation is that the networks have become the main means of disseminating erroneous or false information, especially regarding health and nutrition. Many influencers share “miracle” diets, exercise plans, and products that promise to help you achieve your ideal weight.

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However, neglecting the fact that each process must be adapted to the individual characteristics and that requires the accompaniment of qualified professionals. Not to mention that advertising is a psychological mechanism that acts as an external influence on food and eating habits.

In many cases, people have healthy habits —even suggested by their nutritionist— and they change them after watching a video on social networks. Also, some young people end up adopting behaviors that bring them closer to eating disorders, such as bulimia, anorexia or binge eating disorders.

Why can diet videos on TikTok be harmful?

TikTok diet videos abound. While some are made by professionals in the field, others are simply advice given by influencers who know little or nothing about nutrition. What is the big problem? Many of the recommendations have no scientific basis and put health at risk.

In a study made to 881 people, 82% said they follow nutrition accounts. In turn, 65.70% expressed interest in obtaining recipes, while 71% gave high value to rabbits from professionals. However, it was determined that the most popular were those accounts that were not from professionals in the field.

In other study recent, in which virtual surveys were applied, it was found that there is a significant risk between the frequency of use of social networks and the risk of eating disorders.

In addition, it was observed that the social networks most in danger of influencing these problems are those that do not have a rigorous control of the publications. This could happen with TikTok before putting the filter on the videos.

Many of the diets that are spread on social networks are extreme and restrictive. Therefore, implementing them can be risky.

How to use social networks safely?

To avoid problems with diet videos on TikTok and other social networks, there are some recommendations that are worth following.

  • Investigate what is seen in TikTok videos.
  • Find out who put it. Know what profession the person who recommended the diet has and if he is a specialist in the area. Enter the profile and search for it on other social networks.
  • If the goal is to lose or gain weight, it is always important to seek advice from a nutritionist. Each process is different and following diets tends to be dangerous.
  • If you have symptoms or suspicion of having an eating behavior disorder, It is best to seek professional help.

This is not about demonizing all diet videos on TikTok or any social network. Some surely have interesting information. However, it is necessary to find out who are the people who give such advice and if its application carries any risk.

What is associated with food is delicate and influences well-being. Therefore, the criteria of experts on the subject must be considered. The same goes for workout or health videos.

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