The Kardashians have finally responded to Jameela Jamil’s criticism of their ads for detox teas and shakes – but it doesn’t sound like they’ll ditch the brands any time soon.
Jamil has called the Kardashians “irresponsible” and also referred to them as “double agents for the patriarchy” for promoting brands including Flat Tummy Co. The actor also called on them sisters to be honest about the personal trainers and nutritionists that help them achieve their physiques.
But in an interview with the New York Times the reality stars defended their position, with their “momager” Kris Jenner saying: “I don’t live in that negative energy space.”
Khloé Kardashian argued that she shows her workouts on Snapchat while Kim Kardashian said sponsored posts allow the family to work from home without having to leave their children.
“You’re going to get backlash for almost everything so as long as you like it or believe in it or it’s worth it financially, whatever your decision may be, as long as you’re okay with that,” Kim added.
But an NHS dietician and a registered nutritionist have told HuffPost UK they’re concerned about the impacts these products have on health.
Chloe Hall, a community dietician at Dorset Healthcare University NHS foundation trust, said detox products do “very little if you’re lucky” and may leave you “running to the bathroom if you’re not”.
“The ingredients in most of them are herbs and there is no evidence that they will help you lose weight,” she said. “Some of the products contain caffeine and if taken in excessive quantities caffeine can leave people feeling anxious, shaky and with heart palpitations.”
Some detox teas contain an ingredient called senna, which is more problematic and is in some of Flat Tummy Co’s products. The plant extract acts as a laxative, according to Laura Thomas PhD, a nutritionist registered with the Association for Nutrition.
“It’s only intended to be used in the short term, usually around one week, to help relive the symptoms of constipation,” she explained. “Many of these products are sold in courses of 28-days – far more than the one-week recommendation.”
Side effects of senna include stomach cramps and diarrhoea, particularly in those with irritable bowel syndrome, Thomas said. “Long-term diarrhoea can lead to dehydration which can be a risk for other health problems. Furthermore, prolonged use can lead to problems with the bowel working properly on its own.”
Thomas said her main concern is the way in which some teas are marketed to influenceable young women “at higher risk of abusing laxatives, a symptom of disordered eating, by popular social media influencers”.
“Vulnerable people are also far more likely to take more than the recommended dose in a desperate attempt to control their weight and look like the social media influencers who are endorsing these products,” she said. “However, any weight lost with these types of products is just water weight and can lead to diarrhoea and dehydration.”
Focusing on weight as a predictor of health isn’t particularly helpful, said Thomas. “If you’d like to make positive health improvements, think about what you can add in to your diet, rather than take away, such as fibre from whole grains or fruits and vegetables, or heart healthy fats from oily fish,” she said.
“On top of that, making sure you’re getting enough sleep and moving your body for fun and enjoyment, rather than worrying about how many calories you’re burning.”
Hall agreed that making small changes is the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. “There is no one specific food that is going to help it is about the balance of your overall lifestyle which includes diet, activity, sleep and social aspects,” she said. “Reducing portion sizes gradually can help, as can finding an activity you enjoy.”
HuffPost UK has contacted Flat Tummy Co for comment and will update this piece if we receive a response.