Health experts issue urgent warning over viral TikTok trend: ‘Extremely dangerous’

The hashtag #WaterTok is used by people who make ‘recipes’ using water and flavoured ‘skinny’ syrups

Hannah Van De Peer
Friday 21 April 2023 12:49 BST
(Taylor Pullan / SWNS)

A specialist has called for a ban on #WaterTok and ‘What I Eat in a Day’ TikTok trend - saying they encourage disordered eating among young people.

The hashtag #WaterTok is used by people who make ‘recipes’ using water and flavoured ‘skinny’ syrups - like ‘Orange Creamsicle’ and ‘Grape Gatorade’.

Some influencers are encouraging their followers to drink these instead of eating meals.

The ‘What I Eat in a Day’ trend involves people documenting their daily meals and compiling them into one clip - and usually includes a calorie count at the end.

Martha Williams, 28, a specialist for eating disorder charity Beat, believes these trends are “really dangerous” - and only serve to “make thoughts about disordered eating worse”.

Martha, Beat’s senior clinical advice co-ordinator, from London, said: “As the trends have developed, people are using them to instruct their followers to engage in the same behaviours - it’s really dangerous.

“Eating Disorders are incredibly competitive illnesses.

“If people who have a history of disordered eating want to look the same way as the person they’re watching on a screen, they’re going to copy them.

“It’s about who looks thinner - who looks the most ill.

“TikTok makes meal restriction look so easy - people can fall into the trap of thinking, ‘if it can work for them, it can work for me.’

“But everyone is different - people need different levels of sustenance to keep their bodies going. And you can’t replace meals with water.

“There needs to be some kind of awareness raised that this is not a healthy thing to do.

“It isn’t recommended by medical professionals, and it isn’t a weight loss solution.”

(Taylor Pullan / SWNS)

Martha believes #WaterTok could be rooted in a much darker trend - a tactic for hiding weight loss called water loading.

This refers to a person drinking an excessive amount of water in order to appear ‘heavier’ on a scale.

She said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if the trend continues to develop down the path of water loading - where people drink obsessive amounts of water in order to manipulate their weight.”

According to Martha, those affected should be reaching out to people they trust if they find they’re experiencing thoughts of restrictive eating - particularly off the back of #WaterTok and ‘What I Eat in a Day’.

“If someone is drawn to meal replacement videos - get in touch with Beat’s helpline,” she said.

“We’re open 365 days a year, from 9am to 12am. You can talk to us about the way you’re feeling.

“Alternatively, speak to trusted friends or family members. Don’t suffer in silence.”

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