What to Know
- New York City councilman Mark Levine has introduced legislation that would ban the sale of "detox teas" to minors
- Advertisements for detox teas, or "skinny teas," promise they will guarantee near-effortless weightloss and flat stomachs
- The tea is extremely popular and endorsed by social media influencers and celebrities alike, but its harmful effects are coming to light
New York City councilman Mark Levine has introduced legislation that would ban the sale of "detox teas" and "flat-tummy" lollipops to anyone under the age of 18.
Advertisements for detox teas, or "skinny teas," promise they will guarantee near-effortless weightloss and flat stomachs.
Though the products are extremely popular and endorsed by social media influencers and celebrities alike, awareness about the tea's harmful effects is growing.
Levine, who is also the City Council's health chair, is particularly concerned about detox teas being marketed to young people because they give the impression that "the repeated intake of laxatives is part of a healthy lifestyle," he said. Young girls in particular are especially at risk of body-image issues and eating disorders.
Their marketing is "highly misleading" and can result in "dangerous medical effects, even in extreme cases fatalities," he said.
The tea can also cause dehydration, cardiac arrhythmia and severe kidney damage on top of interfering with medication like birth control, according to the City Council.
In addition, the proposed legislation would make it illegal to sell products whose active ingredients include senna and saffron, which are a laxative and an appetite suppressant, respectively.
In a statement supporting the proposal, Harvard Medical School Professor S. Bryn Austin said that "dietary supplements sold for detox or weight loss are snake oil, plain and simple."
"Weight loss claims for these products are either outright sham or a result of adulteration of the products with potentially dangerous stimulants, laxatives, or diuretics," she said.
Because detox teas are categorized as a dietary supplement, they are not required to be pre-market screened by the FDA, the City Council states. More than 13 people have died The FDA "has reported over 13 deaths from laxative tea abuse," the release added.
Actress Jameela Jamil has publicly called out other celebrities for promoting these teas on Instagram, to spread awareness about the harmful physical and psychological effects on the same platforms where the product is promoted.
Levine is hopeful that the legislation will spread awareness about detox teas, while sending a better message to young people about "healthy nutrition, not dangerous shortcuts ike 'flat-tummy' lollipops."