Can a Kim Kardashian lollipop help you lose weight?

May 18, 2018 by James Brown, The Conversation
Credit: HELMUT FOHRINGER/Shutterstock.com

Kim Kardashian West has been heavily criticised for promoting "appetite suppresant" lollipops on her Instagram account. Despite the criticism, more than a million people have liked her post, showing the extent of her influence, especially over her mainly young female audience.

Appetite is a complex biological and psychological process that isn't easily controlled with a lollipop – regardless of what it contains. Itinvolves areas of the brain that create the sensations of hunger or fullness. Hormones released from the gut or the body's fat stores also play a role in controlling appetite.

These hunger or fullness signals can be blocked or "suppressed" to influence our eating behaviour. A number of chemicals that can act as appetite suppressants exist, including illicit drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, and herbal supplements, such as matcha tea and hoodia – although there is no suggestion that such chemicals are in this lolly.

These chemicals do not form the basis for medically managed weight-loss programmes but, as decreased appetite usually leads to decreased food intake, they are sometimes used by people who want to lose weight. Importantly, many of these chemicals are illegal, unregulated or ineffective and can potentially have serious side effects.

Show me the evidence

The lollies in question are produced by Flat Tummy Co, an American company. Flat Tummy Co has previously been accused of false advertising and ordered to take down a social media post advertising one of its products.

This latest product claims to include an "active ingredient" that the company calls satiereal, a product derived from saffron. According to the website, satiereal is clinically proven to reduce appetite; however, no evidence of this effect in the format or dose of these lollies is available, and the study these claims are based on was very small.

Importantly, the lollies are apparently marketed at , looking at the pink packaging and use of young female models on the company website. This approach has rightly been criticised because of the effect it can have on the well-being of young women.

Although eating disorders can affect people of all ages, they are predominantly found in younger people, especially females. About 1.25m people in the UK are thought to have an eating disorder, most of whom are female.

Adverts like this, from influential people, can be damaging, as they help to sustain the persistent belief that being thin is attractive. This can cause body dissatisfaction. Women and young girls are bombarded with unrealistic and often manipulated images of the physical form which they compare themselves to, and has itself been suggested to be a cause of eating disorders. The message that this advert appears to send is that it is good to have a reduced , and this could be dangerous for vulnerable young women.

Don't speak to Kim, speak to your GP

Increasingly, celebrities are paid to advertise health products via social media. This means that often followers of these "influencers" take health advice from unqualified celebrities instead of more appropriate sources.

Celebrities are often paid to advertise products, whether they are beauty creams or health supplements. And they may not even use the products that they promote.

While many people look to celebrities for inspiration when it comes to their look, it is not wise to follow their advice on health. If you feel you need help managing your weight or if you have concerns about your body image, speak to your GP. Help with eating disorders is also available online.

Explore further: A low energy diet leaves people feeling full and eating fewer calories

Related Stories

A low energy diet leaves people feeling full and eating fewer calories

May 10, 2018
People who followed a diet of low energy density food such as vegetables, lean meat and rice were more likely to feel full than those who tried to restrict their calorie intake, according to research.

How a better understanding of the seven ages of appetite could help us stay healthy

May 2, 2018
Do you eat to live or live to eat? We have a complicated relationship with food, influenced by cost, availability, even peer pressure. But something we all share is appetite – our desire to eat. Increased appetite might ...

Too much social media may harm a woman's body image

May 4, 2018
(HealthDay)—Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest may not be good for women's self-esteem, a new study suggests.

Eating disorders underdiagnosed, untreated in men, minorities

March 13, 2018
When we think about eating disorders, what comes to mind most often are underweight white females. But this stereotype is causing a great number of males and people of color to miss out on getting proper health care, say ...

Exercise alone does not lead to weight loss in women—in the medium term

November 23, 2017
Knowing whether or not exercise causes people to lose weight is tricky. When people take up exercise, they often restrict their diet – consciously or unconsciously – and this can mask the effects of the exercise. In our ...

New online program to improve body image

February 13, 2017
A new study is looking for young Australians aged 18-25 years who worry about their weight and body shape to take part in a six-week online program to improve body image.

Recommended for you

Teens get more sleep with later school start time, researchers find

December 12, 2018
When Seattle Public Schools announced that it would reorganize school start times across the district for the fall of 2016, the massive undertaking took more than a year to deploy. Elementary schools started earlier, while ...

Large restaurant portions a global problem, study finds

December 12, 2018
A new multi-country study finds that large, high-calorie portion sizes in fast food and full service restaurants is not a problem unique to the United States. An international team of researchers found that 94 percent of ...

Receiving genetic information can change risk

December 11, 2018
Millions of people in the United States alone have submitted their DNA for analysis and received information that not only predicts their risk for disease but, it turns out, in some cases might also have influenced that risk, ...

Yes please to yoghurt and cheese: The new improved Mediterranean diet

December 11, 2018
Thousands of Australians can take heart as new research from the University of South Australia shows a dairy-enhanced Mediterranean diet will significantly increase health outcomes for those at risk of cardiovascular disease ...

Effect of oral alfacalcidol on clinical outcomes in patients without secondary hyperparathyroidism

December 11, 2018
Treatment with active vitamin D did not decrease cardiovascular events in kidney patients undergoing hemodialysis, according to a research group in Japan. They have reported their research results in the December 11 issue ...

Licence to Swill: James Bond's drinking over six decades

December 10, 2018
He may be licensed to kill but fictional British secret service agent James Bond has a severe alcohol use disorder, according to an analysis of his drinking behaviour published in the Medical Journal of Australia's Christmas ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.