An annual survey of dietitians highlights their concerns about nutrition misinformation on TikTok and other sites.

Hank Schultz, Senior Editor

February 16, 2024

2 Min Read

At a Glance

  • Annual dietitians survey shows concern about TikTok misinformation. 
  • Instagram and Facebook were also mentioned. 
  • This year’s survey was the first to mention dietary supplements. 

An annual survey of dietitians shows that TikTok is now seen as the major source of nutrition misinformation online. It was also the first time they were asked about their views on supplements. 

The survey, conducted by Today’s Dietitian magazine, is now in its 12th year. This year’s results, which were released this week, includes input from 565 registered dietitians. 

When assessing the threats to accurate dietary information, 8% of the respondents listed TikTok as the No. 1 offender. Instagram and Facebook came in at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, with about 72% of respondents mentioning both. 

TikTok becoming more of a concern 

All three social media sites were cited as misinformation centers in the previous year’s survey, too, but now TikTok has vaulted to the No.1 spot. 

Part of the reason for that could be the well-publicized craze for berberine supplements in 2023, driven in large part by popular videos on TikTok calling the supplement “Nature’s Ozempic.” Many of the videos extolling the ability of the natural compound to promote rapid weight loss were shared by individuals with no nutrition qualifications. 

Data from the market research firm SPINS highlights the influence of those posts. Weekly sales of berberine products rose from about $450,000 in a four-week period to more than $600,000 in just a few weeks after the berberine/weight loss videos started to trend.  

Related:Is TikTok the new Dr. Oz Effect? Experience with berberine says yes

Also of concern for the dietitians is the ongoing trend of celebrities sharing lifestyle tips. 

“RDNs believe that social media influencers and celebrities tout the most misinformation,” the magazine said in a press release announcing the survey results. 

Supplement questions appear for first time 

For the first time, the survey queried the dietitians about why they recommend supplements for their clients (for those who do). “Correcting a deficiency” was cited by 80% of the respondents, with “for a health condition” cited by 70% and “for a poor diet” mentioned by 69%. 

The survey asked the dietitians to rank what they believe will be the top purchase drivers for consumers in 2024. They believe consumers are looking for nutrition choices that: 

  1. Are affordable and value-based (65%). 

  2. Boost gut health (60.4%). 

  3. Are easily accessible and convenient (59.8%). 

  4. Support immunity (52.6%). 

The survey also includes a top ten list of “superfoods” for 2024. Fermented foods like kimchi and pickled vegetables again occupy the top spot. New to the list are pulses, like dried peas, beans and lentils, and mushrooms. Blueberries, green tea, seeds, nuts, avocados, ancient grains and salmon round out the list. 

“The 2024 superfoods and top purchase drivers demonstrate that gut health, while long discussed, is officially making its way into the mainstream among consumers, with no sign of slowing down," said Mara Honicker, publisher of Today's Dietitian.  


About the Author(s)

Hank Schultz

Senior Editor, Informa

Hank Schultz has been the senior editor of Natural Products Insider since early 2023. He can be reached at [email protected]

Prior to joining the Informa team, he was an editor at NutraIngredients-USA, a William Reed Business Media publication.

His approach to industry journalism was formed via a long career in the daily newspaper field. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in journalism and German, Hank was an editor at the Tempe Daily News in Arizona. He followed that with a long stint working at the Rocky Mountain News, a now defunct daily newspaper in Denver, where he rose to be one of the city editors. The newspaper won two Pulitzer Prizes during his time there.

The changing landscape of the newspaper industry led him to explore other career paths. He began his career in the natural products industry more than a decade ago at New Hope Natural Media, which was then part of Penton and now is an Informa brand. Hank formed friendships and partnerships within the industry that still inform his work to this day, which helps him to bring an insider’s perspective, tempered with an objective journalist’s sensibility, to his in-depth reporting.

Harkening back to his newspaper days, Hank considers the readers to be the primary stakeholders whose needs must be met. Report the news quickly, comprehensively and above all, fairly, and readership and sponsorships will follow.

In 2015, Hank was recognized by the American Herbal Products Association with a Special Award for Journalistic Excellence.

When he’s not reporting on the supplement industry, Hank enjoys many outside pursuits. Those include long distance bicycle touring, mountain climbing, sailing, kayaking and fishing. Less strenuous pastimes include travel, reading (novels and nonfiction), studying German, noodling on a harmonica, sketching and a daily dose of word puzzles in The New York Times.

Last but far from least, Hank is a lifelong fan and part owner of the Green Bay Packers.

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