health hazards on TikTok: medical experts caution young Australians

With endless information only a swipe up away, young Australians face a crucial challenge in discerning the credibility of health advice on social media platforms like TikTok.  With 51% of young Australians experimenting with various health trends on TikTok and eight out of ten turning to the platform for health-related advice, caution becomes necessary.  

TikTok’s algorithm analyses thousands of signals of users to determine what content they want to see. However, this personalised feed can inadvertently create an echo chamber effect, where users continually watch subjective health advice and neglect other creators who may contradict the information they see. This becomes a significant issue on the platform when only 1 in 40 health influencers are backed by scientific evidence.

Young TikTok users are already experimenting with fad diets seen on the platform, with the top-reported diets including detoxes, foods that burn stomach fat, and liquid cleanses. When comparing the ‘advice’ Gen Z and Millennials engage with, Gen Z is more likely to experiment with chlorophyll water. At the same time, Millennials will shift their diet entirely, such as trialling the cabbage soup and carnivore diet. However, no specific evidence supports any of these diets.  67,000 TikTok videos were analysed by AI to compare them against public health and nutrition advice, with the results declaring that only 2.1% (1,407) of videos were accurate. Additionally, 31% of individuals surveyed by MyFitnessPal have experienced some adverse side effects from fad diets attempted via TikTok. 

Whilst many young Australians turn to TikTok for health-related advice, questioning the validity of such information derived from influencers who do not have a medical background is critical. Discerning credible advice online is imperative in assisting young Australians when navigating the persuasive influence of TikTok.

Check out our other work within the healthcare space here, and feel free to get in touch if you would like to work with us.

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