“I Lost 30 Kg, And You Can”: How TikTok’s Toxic Diet Culture Can Hurt.

TikTok started out as an entertainment platform that was later taken over by experts from various fields. We are told how to use retinol, do makeup and what to eat. All this is interesting until the question arises about the “expertise” of the speakers.

Scientists at the University of Vermont have published study, which claims that TikTok users are spreading toxic diet culture to teens and young adults by talking about nutrition, supplements and weight loss without expertise. The researchers point out that TikTok broadcasts the same message over and over again: “Weight is the most important indicator of a person’s health.” And we need food in order to look thin and healthy.

“In addition to professional influencers, we see a huge number of ordinary people and bloggers who say: this is how I threw off 30 kg, it’s super easy, you can do it too!” says Professor Lizzie Pope, who took part in the study. We see something similar in other social networks, but Lizzy emphasizes that it is on TikTok that such information resonates, since most of the users are at an age when the risk of eating disorders is extremely high. And if on other sites you can choose who to listen to and watch, then on TikTok you consume content spontaneously and from people you know nothing about.

Scientists reasonably ask: why do people choose to listen to pseudo-experts? Because nutritionists offer you more information about nutrition and health, which ultimately you need to understand yourself, and bloggers who want to sell a course make the content very simple. People don’t want to understand, they want to be shown the way, and bloggers do a good job with this.

Another important point that the study says is that TikTok sets the standard for how a person should look. Most of the users who blog about nutrition are white, young, slim girls. “Social media is always highlighting social labels,” says Professor Hambright, a nutritionist and nutritionist. When someone with a perfect body tells how to eat right, dissatisfaction with their own appearance and lifestyle may appear. As a result: diets without taking into account genetic characteristics and diseases.

The researchers recommend that parents communicate with their children more often in order to at least roughly understand what content they might be interested in. And TikTok users should ignore questionable information so that it gets less coverage.

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