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Social media & diet

Over half (56%) of respondents who use social media for information on health said they would be likely to make changes to their diet based on information they’ve seen on platforms like Tik Tok or Instagram, says a new online survey from the British Nutrition Foundation.

Just over a quarter (27%) of those surveyed said that they’d recently read information about diet and health on social media, and the top motivators given for changing diet were weight loss (40%) and improving fitness (36%). However, the Foundation warns that some of the biggest social media diet trends are not based on sound science, would be difficult to maintain and could even pose health risks.

Diets such as the carnivore diet, 10-day egg diet, the cabbage soup diet and the baby food diet, which are widely shared on social media platforms, are nutritionally unbalanced. They severely restrict the variety of foods eaten and so will not provide all the nutrients the body needs and, because they tend to be a quick fix, any weight lost is likely to be regained.

Bridget Benelam, Nutrition Communications Manager at the British Nutrition Foundation said “Many of us will be thinking about making changes to our diet this January, but following what we see on social media may do more harm than good. Healthy, balanced diets are never going to go viral but they are the way to go to improve health”.

The survey also found that people’s top diet concerns are having too much sugar (21%) too many calories (20%) and not enough fruit and veg (15%). Busy lives (19%) affordability (17%) and being tempted by unhealthy takeaways (12%) were the top 3 reasons cited as making it hard to eat healthily.

Benelam continues: “Times are tough and it’s not always easy to make healthy choices. This New Year, ditch the fads and pick just a few small changes that you can stick to. Try and add one more portion of vegetables to your dinner each day, swap sugary snacks for fruit or choose wholegrain bread or pasta. If you can keep these changes up then they can make a real difference to your health over time”

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