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diets, weight loss

Jameela Jamil calls out celebrities for promoting potentially harmful weight loss supplements that could give you the shits #teamJameela

Jameela Jamil made news this week for calling out various celebrities for peddling so-called weight loss and detox supplements and teas. She also hoped they might “shit their pants in public.”

I am #teamJameela.

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Here is one of the celebrity endorsements that caught her attention, but sadly there are quite a few promoting Flat Tummy Co and all from women with a demographic most vulnerable to destructive messaging about food, body image, and diet — young women and teens.

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Jameela is right to call them out and she is right that one of the products from Flat Tummy Co could make you shit your pants. The tea is primarily laxatives, or at least you hope that is what it contains and not lead or antidepressants or dirt from the side of I-5 as studies tell us dietary supplements, which are unregulated, are often adulterated.

(By the way, I’m getting enraged every time I type Flat Tummy Co, because promoting a body image disorder with the actual name of your company is next level. I’m going to start calling them FTC, which could also stand for Fucking Terrible Celebrities because it is fucking terrible to use your platform in this way).

At Flat Tummy Co everything is pink and everyone is a Babe. Just seconds after you arrive “Babe Support” appears and when you buy you become a babe too. They anoint you. It’s like an angel getting its wings, but not at all. This is my chat from this morning and the pop up that appeared as I was typing. Another babe in Washington.

 

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Destructive messaging aside, here is a run down of some medical concerns with FTC products themselves:

Meal replacements are best done as part of a medically supervised weight loss program, not in a Regina-George-on-acid format. The kind of marketing from FTC could attract women who do not medically need to lose weight and contribute to an unhealthy relationship with food. Women who medically want to lose weight are unlikely to do so with these shakes. Essentially, they are a distraction from healthy eating and lifetstyle modification.

The teas sold by FTC are definitely geared to make you shit. The “activate tea” contains 2 possible laxatives: liquorice root and dandelion root.  The “cleanse tea” is almost all laxative — in addition to the liquorice and dandelion root there is senna, Cassia Chamaecrista, and rhubarb root. So 5 of the 7 ingredients are laxatives and the other two, peppermint and caraway, are often used to soothe bloat. I guess that would be needed to temper the colonic spasms.

Laxatives are not ecommended for weight loss or weight maintenance or to give you a “flat tummy.” (I’m shouting, but bold is easier to read than all caps). Laxatives are sadly used by people who suffer from bullemia, so exposing women to laxatives as a “normal” part of weight loss of maintenance is disgusting. It is destructive messaging.

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Liquorice or licorice in large amounts long-term can also lead to high blood pressure and there are concerns about it being harmful to a developing fetus. How much is in FTC’s product? Your guess is a good as mine!

Then there is the egregious use of “cleansing” and “detoxification,” which are medically nonsensical terms. There are also no “nasties” to eliminate. The Kardashians, helping woman be less informed about their bodies since 2018. I mean come on people, do you not have enough money? Giving women incorrect information about how their bodies work to sell product is the exact opposite of female empowerment.

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The lollipops, promoted by Kim Kardashian, make appetite suppressant claims. The first two ingredients are sugar, so there’s that. The active ingredient, Satiereal®, is a saffron extract. There is one study of 60 patients over 8 weeks on its impact on snacking —  one half of the participants took the saffron extract and half a placebo (as a capsule, not a sugar filled lollipop). The patients who took the extract lost 0.9 kg or about 2 lbs more over 8 weeks. That’s the only study.

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As the lollipops have 35 calories and the recommendation is 2 a day, over 8 weeks that is an extra 3,920 calories. That could be enough for some people to gain a pound. Or two.

What we do know about weight loss drugs or pharmacotherapy for weight loss is that they are only indicated for people with a BMI over 30 or for those who have a BMI over 27 who have other medical conditions. They should be medically supervised, not “Babe” supported, and only used in conjunction with lifestyle modification — provocative Instagram poses don’t count.

Appetite suppressants also have a long history of turning out to be dangerous. We don’t know what we don’t know.

Jameela Jamil is exactly right to call out celebrities for endorsing these products and the products themselves. There is no quick fix for weight loss, if there were we doctors would most definitely not be hiding it from you. We also wouldn’t wrap it in pink and call you babe.

FTC products are marketed to young women and teens, so it is no wonder who they pay to advertise on Instagram. The Kardashians and Cardi B and anyone else who sends young women to this website or any weight loss supplement/detox website should be ashamed of themselves. This is the exact messaging and the kind of products that cultivate eating disorders.

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And Jameela, if you read this, I was that teenager too.

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My recent article for the New York Times on my weight loss struggles.

 

Discussion

16 thoughts on “Jameela Jamil calls out celebrities for promoting potentially harmful weight loss supplements that could give you the shits #teamJameela

  1. Great email and I also just read your binge eating article in the Times. I’m 52 years old and my experience sounds identical — except that I actually started purging in my mid-to-late 40s. Luckily I haven’t purged in a few years and I hope that’s behind me. But damn this is such a gut-wrenching way to go through life. Fucking society and it’s unrealistic demands on women 😦

    xo, Marybeth

    Posted by Marybeth Maloy | November 27, 2018, 1:42 pm
    • I also went from binge eating to bulimia decades ago and managed to stop it suddenly for reasons I still don’t understand. I understand the triggers for the loss of control better now in retrospect, but I may never understand what switched them off. It becomes an addiction with relapses and many of the features of other addictions.

      These idiot little buzzards are preying on vulnerable girls, and it’s past time for the FDA to step in. Unfortunately the primary law that prevents them from regulating supplements is grounded in legislation from the 30s that was politically motivated, and in recent years geniuses like Orrin Hatch–bought and paid for by the supplements industry–refuse to let meaningful expansion of the FDA’s mandate make any progress in Congress.

      Posted by Sara | November 28, 2018, 9:34 am
  2. I think you & I had the same mom and it was the same ’50’s party in ’78 (fellow former Winnipegger!). Really related to your article…and I wish I could stop my teenage daughters from following those damn Kardashians on social media. I don’t think I have BED, but I’ve also recently regained a lot of weight I lost (also about 7 years ago) and I’m struggling to come to grips with the fact that the size I am now might be permanent. It just sucks to feel this way.

    Posted by Laura N | November 27, 2018, 2:16 pm
  3. Please include Protein Powders when you write about these dangerous supplements. They aren’t regulated either! My husband is a research scientist and tested one brand because the spokesperson said it included a specific ingredient that my husband’s group was investigating for inclusion in something they were inventing.
    They tested almost two dozen packages from several sources and found no inclusion of that ingredient. Not even a trace. The really concerning data showed the packages weren’t even consistent from package to package in regard to the other ingredients (fillers)! So who knows what you’re taking into your body. Pretty darned scary.

    Posted by Erin | November 27, 2018, 2:57 pm
  4. Need we even mention the risk of hypokalemia with licorice root? Of course, that is impossible to assess, since we have no idea of the actual content.

    Posted by Robert Curtis | November 27, 2018, 5:59 pm
  5. FTC also stands for Federal Trade Commission. I think we need to get the Feds to investigate the flat belly people…

    Posted by Susanna Levin, NP | November 27, 2018, 7:25 pm
  6. For the Berry and Watermelon lollipops, their first three ingredients are “sugar syrup”, because beets are a source of sugar as well. I’m guessing they don’t offer percentages of each ingredient anywhere (“trade secret” doncherknow – couldn’t risk having the suckers who are paying – whoops, sorry, customers – find out the suckers they’re buying aren’t any better for them than a cheap packet of Chupa-chups from the corner store).

    Posted by megpie71 | November 27, 2018, 8:23 pm
  7. She seems like a grounded young woman.

    Posted by Davd | November 27, 2018, 9:46 pm
  8. @megpie71 – TBH, it could be not sugar beet but red beet, which is a popular “organic” coloring agent and would make sense for “berry” and “watermelon” but not other flavors. “Apple” has turmeric and “grape” grape extract for coloring.

    Posted by wiescihistoryczne | November 28, 2018, 7:33 am
  9. Dr. Gunter – I love your honesty and helping keep things real in a world where so much feels airbrushed – we need your brand of transparency – especially the next generation of young women looking for guidance at a time they feel so unsure of their place in the world – thank you so much for your blog, I love it when your dose of reality and humor shows up in my inbox!

    Posted by Suzanne | November 28, 2018, 7:43 am
  10. Dr. Gunter–I was really moved by your NYT piece. You are exceptionally rare among medical professionals to acknowledge publicly that you share our eating disorder struggles. Many of the nurses and docs I meet are either grossly overweight or are making no effort to confront their obvious anorexia. There’s a lot of arrogant sanctimony and denial there. I once listened to a NP harangue me about my “orthorexia” (long-term plant-based eater here) as her thighs the size of tree trunks spilled out of her chair. As I was finishing up paperwork I saw her wolf down a pizza and then start on a bucket of fried chicken as though her life depended on it. That woman had a problem. A year later I returned, and she was even fatter. Two of the nurses there were scary-looking skeletons. Eating disorders are frighteningly common, and medical professionals need to confront them in their own ranks.

    I’m a bit older than you and struggled with bulimia for decades on my own in dead secrecy because there was no name/treatment/recognition for that very secret problem. The shame of it and the need to hide it was indescribable. Thank goodness eating disorders are now somewhat more in the open. But shame and stigma are still there.

    Posted by Sara | November 28, 2018, 9:22 am
    • And the body-shaming in this comment is big reason that eating disorders persist.

      Posted by saf | November 28, 2018, 4:42 pm
      • Your misplaced hostility shows that you entirely missed the point and are caught up in the anti-body-shaming nonsense. Medical professionals must set an EXAMPLE. They are held to a higher standard whether you like it or not. If they are going to lecture us about how to live and take care of ourselves, they do NOT get a pass for being slobs themselves. I will not tolerate being told by a grossly obese, hypocritical nurse who is totally devoid of self-awareness that I must change my healthy lifestyle–as affirmed by decades of good studies–because it makes her uncomfortable. And then to return later and find that she has done NOTHING to change her situation? She has normalized being grossly obese so that her patients think that is healthy and to be emulated.

        I used to work with obese people. Many of the people we worked with did not have profound psychological distress that caused them to turn to food to cope. Their behavior did not arise from a disorder that could kill them. They often accused us of “body-shaming” and used that term defensively and derisively toward us because we would not allow them to normalize obesity and would not be intimidated by their attempts to attack us. “Body shaming” was a code word thrown at us when we confronted them about their refusal to take care of themselves and acknowledge the risks of continued obesity. They needed nutrition education and guidance. They needed information and a wake-up call, not intensive psychological help.

        People with profoundly disordered eating, though, such as bulimia/anorexia/extreme obesity deserve great sympathy and support. It’s obvious that their disordered eating was a reaction to some kind of deep trauma or unmet basic psychological needs. People who hide behind their attempts to normalize garden-variety obesity, on the other hand, deserve to be body-shamed and told to get their act together–with some support, not sympathy or encouragement to accept and continue their unhealthy behaviors and attitudes. .

        Posted by Sara | November 29, 2018, 8:40 am
  11. You are awesome. Celebrities endorsing products like this deeply intensify the already strong size and figure shaming in our society. So many things can cause weight gain – I developed active Hypothyroid disorder and gained 30lbs (I lost them again when my Rx regime with my doctor was straightened out). What the celebrities won’t admit is that they also do a little photoshopping and image manipulation to look as thin as possible. I would do many things for money (I’m human, I admit it), but I would never promote a useless/dangerous product that makes women feel even worse about their bodies. Too much of that nonsense gets in the head and hurts.

    Posted by Laura M. | November 29, 2018, 3:02 pm
  12. I looked closer at the picture of Klohe up there, and the side view is *very* clearly photoshopped. The creases in her leggings cut off, and her butt is a perfect round. That picture isn’t even real.

    Posted by Laura M. | November 29, 2018, 3:37 pm
  13. Well, in Kim K’s defence – she does says in the text that they are litterary unreal. And indeed they seem to be according to the facts you present… 🙂
    Perhaps a case of misleading marketing on behalf of FTC which the other FTC should deal with?
    🙂

    Posted by Ida | November 30, 2018, 11:55 am

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