Why a new food challenge online is worrying experts – The Disturbing Trend

In this digital age, the world of food has become a popular trend, spanning from familiar flavors to unique ones.

However, experts are expressing concerns about the well-being of individuals with eating disorders in light of the newest food trend on TikTok.

Creative creators on the video-sharing platform are engaging in the #fearfoodchallenge by consuming foods they typically avoid.

Here’s a brief overview of the challenge.

What is #fearfoodchallenge?

The #fearfoodchallenge aims to support individuals dealing with eating disorders.

Participants are encouraged to test their bravery by randomly selecting a food item from a “fear food jar” and consuming it on camera.

These foods often include high-calorie items like burgers, tacos, or chocolate bars.

According to The Indian Express, the trend has garnered nearly 500 million views to date.

Fear of food, which results in restriction or avoidance of certain foods, is one of the signs of an eating disorder. Pixabay/Representative Image

What exactly is a fear of food?

Fear of food is a common indicator of an eating disorder, leading to the avoidance or restriction of specific foods.

While eating disorders can affect individuals of any age, they often begin in young adults (up to 24 years old) and teenagers (10 to 19 years old).

Those with medical conditions like diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease are at a higher risk of developing eating disorders, as reported by NDTV.

The primary treatments for eating disorders include psychiatric therapies such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).

What are the risks?

Experts, including psychologists, have raised concerns about this emerging trend.

They warn that attempting such challenges without proper supervision and assistance could exacerbate mental health issues and trigger harmful behaviors.

According to Neha Cadabam, a senior psychologist, these challenges can be highly triggering for individuals with eating disorders, potentially leading to negative emotions and relapses.

The fear food challenge could have detrimental effects on the mental health of the participants, especially due to negative comments from viewers.

Why is expert supervision necessary?

Research suggests that exposure to feared objects can have positive outcomes, but without professional guidance, there is a risk of worsening fears related to food.

The issue with the fear food challenge videos is that they are often created without proper supervision from exposure-based therapy professionals.

Exposure-based therapy, which utilizes CBT principles, helps individuals overcome phobias by gradually exposing them to anxiety-inducing stimuli.

Having a qualified therapist guide the process is crucial, especially in the early stages of treatment.

While the fear food challenge can raise awareness about eating disorders, it is essential to approach exposure therapy with caution and under expert supervision.

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