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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And Jameela, if you read this, I was that teenager too.
My recent article for the New York Times on my weight loss struggles.