Detox and Weight Loss Tea – Are Teenagers Susceptible to the Dangers?
Many ‘detox’ and weight loss teas claim to be a quick fix for those who want to lose weight. But health practitioners warn they can lead to serious side effects. Teenagers are particularly susceptible to the dangers of these teas, which contain laxatives like senna.
One of Lilly’s followers complained to the ASA, saying she felt duped. The post “pushed false claims” and a later comment that it was an April Fools joke left her feeling very unhappy and stupid.
It’s a scam
Like waist trainers and juicing machines, detox teas are all the rage in New Zealand, promoted by influencers who promise a quick and cheap (ish) aesthetically pleasing fix. But they’re little more than glorified laxatives in disguise, a recent investigation found. Several brands of diet and “detox” tea have been withdrawn from sale following an investigation by Consumer NZ. The teas contained senna leaf, which contains sennosides, a pharmacy-only medicine used to treat constipation.
Companies need consent to advertise or sell products containing sennosides, but none of the teas had been approved by Medsafe. Consumer NZ’s chief executive Sue Chetwin said it was worrying that many of the companies involved seemed unaware of the rules. Senna can cause liver damage if taken long-term.
She wants the law to be tightened up so that these types of products are clearly labelled as either food or medicine. Companies need to be able to prove their claims and shouldn’t be able to take advantage of grey areas in the regulation.
Health practitioners are concerned about teens becoming ill after drinking laxative teas being pushed on them by social media influencers. The teas contain sennosides, a natural laxative that can cause long-term health side effects. In addition to being unhealthy, these teas promote a negative body image, which is already widespread on social media. Body-neutrality activist Jameela Jamil has been critical of these teas, saying that they exploit insecurities about one’s body size.
The Eating Disorders Association of New Zealand has reported that teens are ordering the tea online and getting seriously ill. The teas are marketed to teenagers using before and after pictures of skinny celebrities and promises of fast weight loss. However, the teas can lead to dehydration and nutrient deficiency. These effects can be especially harmful to young people with a predisposition for anorexia.
It’s not effective
While some natural teas have been shown to promote weight loss, it mostly comes down to eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. Accredited Practising Dietitians Australia (DAA) spokesperson Clare Collins explains that although these teas might have some placebo effect, they’re unlikely to have significant weight loss effects on their own. She recommends skipping the teas and spending the money on fresh, whole fruits and vegetables instead.
She also says that many of these teas are claiming to be both food and medicine, which is dangerous. She points out that these products are not regulated by either the food or medical bodies, so claims can go unchecked.