U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal has simultaneously waded into truth-in-advertising and TMZ territories in a public denouncing of detox tea products promoted for weight loss and the singling out a reality television icon who is the most prominent endorser of these products – Kim Kardashian West.
In a letter sent last week to Joseph Simons, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Connecticut’s senior senator noted “our deep concern” over the marketing of detox teas and shakes and “their false promotion as shortcuts to healthy weight loss and management.” Blumenthal cited the brands Fit Tea, Lyfe Tea and Flat Tummy Co. and argued that “these products, marketed to adolescents and young adults through celebrity endorsements and social media for weight loss and wellness, are ineffective at best and dangerous at worse.”
Blumenthal also voice disapproval of the use of the laxative senna as an ingredient in these products, pointing out that the National Institutes of Health “cautions against using this product for more than 14 days, and notes that there is insufficient evidence for its effectiveness in promoting weight loss.”
He noted research that argued girls and young women who use laxatives for weight loss “are at a higher risk for developing eating disorders, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents avoid these products completely due to their connection to eating disorders.”
Blumenthal highlighted Kim Kardashian West’s endorsement of these products as having a lethal impact on American youth.
“Kim Kardashian, a powerful influence on young women, recently raved about how Flat Tummy Co.’s products are ‘helping me get my tummy back to flat,’ implying that these products are an integral part of achieving this level of fame and success,” he wrote. “Additionally, celebrities can reportedly earn six-figure sums for a single social media post promoting a ‘detox tea,’ frequently without any expectation that these celebrities personally use these teas and expose themselves to the products’ associated dangers, in violation of the FTC’s Endorsement Guidelines.”
Blumenthal called on the FTC to investigate the marketing practices of the detox tea manufacturers and take “enforcement action to protect unwitting consumers from harm,” adding the FTC should team with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on a public education initiative to educate consumers on the alleged health risks of these products. However, Blumenthal offered no advice on how to handle Kim Kardashian West – and, for her part, the self-promoting celebrity offered no comment on the senator’s criticism.