Healthy or Not? Attitudes to Wellness on TikTok

Written
Zing Coach
Medically reviewed
Dr. Andrew Belaveshkin, PhD
3

 min

Published on 

May 31, 2024

Some of us rely heavily on TikTok for wellness advice, but many don't verify the information, raising concerns about health misinformation. In this article, we dive into the trends, trust issues, and whether HealthTok is here to stay.

Healthy or Not? Attitudes to Wellness on TikTok
Scan your body.

Get insights. Take action.
Take our FREE quiz to kickstart your transformation
Try Zing

Key takeaways

Fact checked

How often do you take advice from TikTok? From cleaning hacks to side hustles, many of us have taken on board the occasional insight from a stranger online.

One of the most prolific topics bombarding TikTok users are fitness and diet tips. From ultra-toned gymfluencers to charismatic wellness gurus, sometimes it can feel impossible to scroll through your feed without someone offering health advice. But is anyone listening?

To find out, we spoke to Generation Z about their interactions with wellness on TikTok. Our study reveals that:

  • 56% of Gen Z use TikTok for advice on wellness and diet advice
  • 1 in 3 get more wellness advice from TikTok than anywhere else

  • 1 in 3 don’t double-check or verify the information that they get via TikTok
  • 3 out of 5 say they’ve seen health disinformation being promoted on TikTok

  • Only 1 in 10 believe that wellness content should be removed from TikTok

The Lowdown: The Truth About Wellness on TikTok

If you still had any doubt about the reach of health advice on TikTok, you can leave that at the door: Gen Z are lapping up wellness content.

Indeed our study confirmed that more than half of Gen Z – 56% – are actively using TikTok to find fitness and diet tips. And they certainly won’t have trouble finding them.

What’s more, a sizable number of Gen Z users are actively prioritizing wellness advice they find on TikTok. Indeed for 1 in 3 TikTok users, the app is their main source of health advice, whether online or otherwise.

So how did the video giant compare against more traditional sources of advice like health professionals and specialized websites? It turns out that TikTok is more than twice as popular as any other option.

Only 11% said their main source of health advice was qualified professionals (whether that’s doctors or personal trainers). 14% said they got wellness tips largely from their friends, and 13% found them through Google.

What explains this trend? When we asked Gen Z why they preferred to get health advice from TikTok, the top answer was perhaps the most obvious– because it doesn’t cost anything.

Meanwhile, 22% said they liked being able to tap into a fountain of wellness advice (whether quality or otherwise) at their fingertips, and 5% liked the fact that TikTok wasn’t trying to sell them products like treatments or fitness gadgets.

Wellness on TikTok: Are Gen Z Too Trusting?

Even before the pandemic, the risks of health misinformation on social media were well rehearsed. We all know the drill: you cannot trust everything you see – and some of it may even be actively bad for you.

But for all the fears about dangerous diets and snake oil therapies, do Gen Z have the tools to make sure they’re not following harmful advice? Our study suggests that they may actually be more discerning than some fear.

Overall, 66% said they only trusted TikTok wellness advice if it came from a doctor, nutritionist, athlete or similar professional background. After all, there is no shortage of MDs or PTs putting out videos on the app.

20% took a slightly less rigorous approach, saying they were happy to listen to anyone who seemed to know their stuff, a stance that may leave them vulnerable to quacks and other charlatans.

Elsewhere, 15% said they would only trust a creator they already followed, while 10% said they would inspect the person’s follower count first. At the other end of the spectrum, 20% of respondents said they wouldn’t trust wellness advice on TikTok whatever the reason.

We also wanted to know whether Gen Z was in the practice of verifying information that they saw online. After all, one good way of identifying misinformation is to compare it to more reliable sources like healthcare websites.

Worryingly, our study revealed that 1 in 3% of Gen Z aren’t taking any extra steps to verify the wellness information they encounter on TikTok, potentially exposing themselves to bad advice.

That isn’t to say that Gen Z aren’t aware of the risks of misinformation, with 3 out of 5 saying they’d personally seen such content during their time scrolling through TikTok.

Still, of those who had seen wellness misinformation, less than half said they’d taken the time to call it out or report it, with the majority saying they’d simply ignored it.

Health Advice on TikTok: Is There a Downside?

Sometimes it seems that TikTok gets a lot of stick – even by the standards of social media networks. But is there any evidence it’s actually doing us harm when it comes to our health?

Our study doesn’t suggest there’s a major problem – at least not yet. Indeed only 1 in 11 said they’d experienced negative health issues after following advice that they’d found on TikTok.

That said, there is one problem that’s been plaguing Gen Z: lower self esteem. Faced with a slew of vital videos from gorgeous content creators, 58% of respondents reported feeling less secure about their own appearance.

With all the buzz about restricting TikTok, did our Gen Z respondents want to see lawmakers taking a tougher stance on wellness content?

On that question, Gen Z were almost unanimous in their answer, with 89% saying they did not want to see health advice videos restricted on TikTok.

Instead, respondents generally wanted to see creators themselves held accountable for any harmful content they might be posting (including by holding them legally liable).  Overall 63% agreed with the statement that content creators should be liable for what they post.

Overall, then, perhaps we need to worry less about wellness trends on TikTok. Gen Z might be lapping health advice online, but that doesn’t mean they’re taking it at face value – at least not most of them.

Still, one thing’s for sure – with the consistent popularity of wellness videos online, we certainly shouldn’t expect to see the decline of “HealthTok” on anytime soon. Like it or lump it, the deluge of fitness and health advice is here to stay.

Methodology

To create this study, researchers from Zing Coach surveyed 1,000 people aged from 18 to 27. Participants were selected at random and with no focus on particular genders, ethnicities, social backgrounds, or fitness levels.

Sources

FAQ

No items found.
Add extra Zing to your fitness routine
Take our FREE quiz to kickstart your transformation.
Get your workout plan now
Take our FREE quiz to go to the next level with your training
By clicking “Accept,” you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.