Scientists warn of misleading nutrition advice on TikTok

Research supports the Mediterranean diet as a healthy eating plan that helps prevent heart disease and other chronic health conditions. But a new study reveals that people browsing the popular social media platform TikTok for diet information are likely to find advice that is neither aligned with the Mediterranean diet nor particularly healthy.

“People won’t be able to follow the Mediterranean diet if they don’t understand what it is and how to incorporate it into their home food environment,”said Margaret Raber, DrPH, assistant professor at the Center for Child Nutrition Research in the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture and Baylor College of Medicine, lead author of the study. “Our findings suggest that while users will find high-quality content created by medical professionals, they will also encounter conflicting, vague, or even misleading information when exploring #mediterraneandiet on TikTok.”

The Mediterranean diet is an eating plan that emphasizes minimally processed plant-based foods while minimizing added sugars, refined carbohydrates, and saturated fats. Olive oil looms large, and fish, dairy, and poultry can be included in moderation.

While the diet takes its name from the traditional eating habits of certain countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, not all of the diverse cuisines of the Mediterranean region reflect the Mediterranean diet as scientists and doctors understand it. This has led to confusion about what constitutes the Mediterranean diet.

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