Prominent Doctor Fears Impact of TikTok Diet Trends

TikTok Crash Diets

Dr. Amy Lee believes America has an unhealthy relationship with food.

Lee is an expert on obesity and has discussed the topic with outlets like PBS and HBO. Precious few Americans have heeded her advice, however.

“Americans’ relationship with food is very troublesome,” the medical expert told The Food Institute. “We’re becoming less patient in our lives, and we expect everything to be convenient. … Fast-food places like McDonald’s leverage Uber Eats, so someone who doesn’t want to wait at the drive-thru can have their hamburger delivered to their door.”

Americans, she added, are getting away from healthy habits like meal prepping and perusing produce aisles. Instead, many consumers tend to opt for quicker, more convenient food that often includes preservatives and copious amounts of sugar or oils.

Lee believes TikTok deserves much of the blame.

An extremely popular social media app – with nearly 1.7 billion users globally as of November – TikTok caters to modern consumers’ shortened attention spans, offering 10- to 15-second videos. And, lately, many of those TikTok videos highlight fads like the cottage cheese and mustard diet (explained here in a CTV report), or #WaterTok (we’ll let YouTuber “courtreezy” explain).

Lee, the head of nutrition for Nucific, said that with diet trends “that focus on one ingredient, such as the cayenne lemonade diet, or cleanses that restrict all macronutrients, one could lose weight. (But) starving the body is definitely not the right way to do it long-term.

“Crash diets that promise a quick fix … it’s very unsustainable. Sadly, there are people that pursue this avenue for a fast way to lose a few pounds.”

Approximately two-thirds of American adults are overweight and/or obese. It should come as no surprise, then, that high protein and mindful eating were the most common eating patterns or diets in 2023, per Statista.

In search of a weight-loss solution, consumers are increasingly turning to TikTok which, like many forms of social media, tends to be an echo chamber,

“TikTok is an information delivery system that connects like minds – for good or for bad,” Lee said. The platform “is able to push content out quickly and increase reach in a matter of minutes; that makes the platform super impactful.”

Lee feels that Americans would be better served by making simple lifestyle tweaks, like the following:

Slow down. The fast-paced lifestyle that many lead these days doesn’t lend itself to healthy eating. As a result, Lee suggests taking 30 to 40 minutes for meals, and to thoughtfully consider food choices.

Set goals. Those seeking to lose weight would be well-advised to make clear dietary goals, write down how they plan to achieve them, and to review their plan at the start of each day.

Focus on one change at a time. “Don’t overwhelm yourself (and) want to make changes to every aspect of your life,” Lee said. “Prioritize what’s important and be your own project manager.”