Home Health Quick fix weight loss videos surge online, raising mental health concerns

Quick fix weight loss videos surge online, raising mental health concerns


Online analysis found there have been over eight million posts in 2024 alone about ‘burning fat quickly’ on TikTok. And Google searches for these types of ‘quick fixes’ have increased by 581% in the last 12 months.

However, a poll of 2,000 adults, found 42% admit that ‘quick weight loss’ content makes them feel insecure and negatively impacts their mental health. And 59% agree celebrity and weight loss content is the worst thing on social media for their mental health.

The research was commissioned by ASICS, as part of its ‘15 Minute Weight Loss’ campaign, showing just 15 minutes of exercise is enough to take the weight off our minds.

Professor Brendon Stubbs, a leading researcher in exercise and mental health from King’s College London, said: “By becoming too focused on the short-term and often narrow possibility of losing weight, we are neglecting the profound and multifaceted benefits movement can have on our minds.

“The fact is that weight loss is hard, and it takes time. Many people stop exercising before this happens because they become despondent when quick weight loss is not visible, or in some cases not possible. Instead, if people focus on doing exercise for enjoyment and the mental health benefits, people are not only protecting their minds but are also much more likely to remain engaged in exercise in the long term.”

The analysis went on to reveal conversations online about exercise for mental health remain significantly less frequent. The number of videos focused on “exercise + weight loss” has increased by 204% this year, 33% more than videos focusing on “exercise + mental health”.

As a result, 70% agree weight loss content on social media doesn’t motivate them to exercise. And 80% believe the focus on celebrity bodies negatively impacts self-esteem. While a further 72% believe society’s obsession with the perfect body is bad for people’s mental health, figures revealed.

Psychologist Dr Tara Quinn-Cirillo added: “Evidence suggests that quick-fix weight loss, through diet and exercise fads, often leads to only short-term gains and negative long-term consequences.

“The desire to lose weight quickly, perpetuated by societal norms and pervasive digital weight loss content, can be damaging to self-esteem and self-worth, as people strive for an ideal that society has cultivated.

“The result can cause people to obsess overusing exercise only as a way to change appearances. What often gets overlooked is the power of movement to support better overall health – therefore, reframing our relationship with exercise is crucial.

“Moving our bodies releases dopamine which boosts mood, reduces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline and has long-term benefits for anxiety reduction.

“And we don’t always need to engage in ‘formal’ exercise for these benefits – activities such as running, playing games in a park, or even going up and down the stairs are all movements that can contribute to overall improved wellbeing.”

Gary Raucher, from ASICS EMEA, added: “The increasing focus on exercise purely as a tool for weight loss is worrying. Research shows that society’s obsession with exercising for the “perfect” body is adding pressure and putting people off exercise.

“Today’s campaign is a crucial reminder for people to move for their minds, and not just for how it changes their bodies. We’ve always believed in the positive impact of movement, not just on the body, but also on the mind.”

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