Study: Tiktok can help tackle obesity among teens

  • Family
  • Friday, 14 Jun 2024

Weight-loss videos are a large part of content on TikTok. — dpa

SOCIAL media apps like TikTok should be used to help teenagers avoid becoming obese, researchers have suggested.

Academics called for “no time to be lost” in harnessing the popularity of the platforms to spread scientific information about nutrition to young people.

The study, presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Venice, was led by Dr Antonella Franceschelli, of Unicamillus International Medical University in Rome.

“The growing obesity epidemic, particularly among young people, represents a global challenge that requires innovative approaches. Over 90% of teenagers have at least one social media account and their social media presence continues to grow,” she said.

“Food and beverage brands capitalise on this trend by using social media to market their products, including unhealthy ones, to teens. But there is also huge potential use social media to disseminate scientific information on obesity and nutrition and support teenagers and young adults in eating healthily.”

For the study, researchers monitored views from a TikTok account run by Dr Franceschelli. It posted videos about how to manage obesity, including advice on healthy eating and exercise, and information on anti-obesity drugs.

Some 108 videos, posted between September 2021 and February 2024, were analysed. They were watched 4.6 million times in total, with an average of 42,495 views per video.

Dr Franceschelli added: “We need to find new ways to talk to young people about obesity. Social media channels like TikTok offer a unique opportunity to reach them in a fun and creative way and engage them in meaningful discussions about health.”

Videos about anti-obesity drugs were the most popular, the study found.

Dr Franceschelli said using TikTok to address obesity could also help tackle stigma.

“By creating an online community of support and sharing success stories and personal experiences, it is possible to promote a culture of acceptance and support for those struggling with their weight,” she added.

“There is no time to be lost in harnessing this potential.” – dpa

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