Local student says TikTok led to her diagnosis of anorexia

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Isabel Romea says TikTok is to blame for her anorexia diagnosis.

What started as an innocent app on her phone turned into a life-changing achievement for a 20-year-old woman.

Isabel Romea, a computer science student at Swarthmore College, says her life took a turn after she started scrolling on TikTok.

Like many during the pandemic, Romea has turned to social media as a distraction. That’s when she discovered TikTok – an app with everything from dance videos to home renovations.

For Romea, it was the endless supply of cooking videos that caught her interest. However, the 20-year-old says those cooking videos quickly turned into “What I Eat in a Day” videos.

Isabel Romea uses TikTok to change things.

Suddenly, her feed was flooded with videos encouraging calorie counting, and he started bombarding her with “good” and “bad” foods.

Romea blames the algorithm for the sudden change in her TikTok content.

“I never chose to start watching these videos; the algorithm chose for me,” she said.

As the videos came in, Romea says she started obsessing over food and developed a negative body image, which eventually became a major health issue.

“What started as just viewing TikToks turned into a diagnosis of anorexia,” she said.

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After a year-long recovery challenge, Romea is taking to TikTok to turn things around.

“I think TikTok needs to take responsibility for that and start thinking about what changes they can make to their algorithm,” she said.

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