Concern for Minors and Pregnant Women Leads Instagram to Ban Detox Tea Promotions

(Photo/Adobe Stock)

Detox tea and skinny tea promotions promising “miraculous”weight loss and other unsupported health claims led to an Instagram ban preventingminors from viewing harmful claims.

Social media influencers have engaged in a fierceback-and-forth over promoting “detox tea” with one side earning millions forendorsing the controversial blends and their celebrity opponents calling outthe brands for misleading young people.

Instagram posts promoting weight-loss products and cosmeticprocedures including plumping of lips will no longer be visible to those under18 years. Users who see “miraculous cures” and other claims they findobjectionable can flag the post so that Instagram can review.

“It’s not in theinterest of the broader community to be exposed to these kinds of brandedmiracle claims,” said Emma Collins, Instagram’s Public Policy Manager. “If [aKardashian’s] Instagram post is pulled into the policy of promoting dietproducts or procedures for sale then that post won't be available to under 18s,”she said.

At one end of the scale, herbal teas blended to aid digestion,increase metabolism and “cleanse” are marketed by many large specialty teabrands [Shape magazinelists Bigelow Tea, Lipton, STASH, Tazo, Twinings, The Republic of Tea,Celestial Seasonings and Harney & Sons]. At the other end of the scale,unscrupulous marketers promote “weight-loss” formulas containing a mix ofcaffeine and laxatives that undermine the confidence of young people. The slimming combination of naturallaxatives and caffeine, a mild diuretic, is temporary.

While you may feellighter according to Health magazine, "your lean-to-fat ratio remains exactly thesame."

Instagram logo

Instagram’s photo-centric sharing platform, which has afollowing of 1 billion people worldwide, is favored since young people can “seefor themselves” the success of celebrity influencers whose bodies adorntestimonials for these products. Critics say these ads erode self-esteem andcan have a detrimental and long-term impact on health. Studies bear outthis concern. Last year Bustlepublished an article calling out Cardi B, Kylie Jenner and Demi Lovato forsupporting brands including Flat Tummy Co. and FitTea, detoxes classified asfood supplements by the Food and Drug Administration.

They are pitted against Felicity Howard and actress JameelaJamil who tweeted: "I wasthe teenager who starved herself for years, who spent all her money on thesemiracle cures and laxatives and tips from celebrities on how to maintain aweight that was lower than what my body wanted it to be.” She said a detoxregimen she followed led to “digestion and metabolism problems for life.”  
Hayward writes that the formulas are dangerous for young people, citing KimKardashian’s promotion of appetite suppressing lollipops. “This product is endorsing eating disorders,"
said Hayward.

Instagram sought Jamil’s support in drafting the change inpolicy. Jamil, who stars in “The Good Place,” founded the body-positive program@I_Weigh

“This is a huge win forour ongoing fight against the diet and detox industry. Facebook and Instagramtaking a stand to protect the physical and mental health of people online,sends an important message out to the world,” Jamil told The Standard.

The Journal of the American Medical Association claimedthat social media platforms are fuelinga rise in mental health disorders and body dysmorphic disorder, whichhas led to some users seeking out plastic surgery procedures to meetunrealistic beauty standards. A reviewof 20 studies on social media and self esteem also associated socialmedia use with body image issues and eating disorders, according to MarketWatch.

In 2018 the Pew Research Center found that 37% of teenagers feel'pressure' to post content that will get a high number of likes and comments.

And a 2017 study of 14 to 24-year-olds by the Royal Society for Public Health and the Young Health Movement foundthat Instagram was the worst social media platform for a young person's mental health

But according to a 2017 study published in the journal Body Image, young girls are quiteresilient in the face of social media pressure about their bodies. The studyfound that adolescent girls were more likely to comparethemselves negatively with peers than to celebrities, and thattheir school and parenting environments were able to positively mitigate anynegative influences from social media, writes Bustle.

Sources: TheStandard, Bustle, Journals Current Obesity ReportsBody Image, MarketWatch, ScienceDirect