The latest internet uproar involves a likely suspect and an unlikely sweet: Kim Kardashian and lollipops. Specifically, the controversy centers on an Instagram the 37-year-old posted on Tuesday showing her with new “appetite suppressant lollipops” from a brand she regularly hawks: Flat Tummy Co.
In the post, which was reportedly taken down briefly, Kardashian calls the lollipops “literally unreal” and then drops the hashtag “#suckit” (the same one the company is using on its own social media). The move wasn’t necessarily a shocking one. Kardashian has dropped many a Flat Tummy Co. post, pushing everything from the company’s shakes to its trademark “detox tea.”
#ad You guys… @flattummyco just dropped a new product. They’re Appetite Suppressant Lollipops and they’re literally unreal. They’re giving the first 500 people on their website 15% OFF so if you want to get your hands on some… you need to do it quick! #suckit
A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on May 15, 2018 at 4:00pm PDT
And last year insiders told Page Six that the reality star gets paid up to $400,000 for posting ads on Instagram. But this one, her followers say, went too far. Not only because it is promoting a product that openly petitions for less eating, but because the product itself is one often geared toward kids.
Kim Kardashian, multi millionaire, promoting appetite suppressant lollipops to her millions of followers, of which will be children, teenagers and young adults and many facing eating disorders. Wtf is wrong with her.
— Diana Maria (@dianamaria_mua) May 16, 2018
One of the most public and scathing outcries on Twitter came from Jameela Jamil, an actress on NBC’s The Good Place who called out the reality star for promoting unhealthy body image. “No. F*** off. No. You terrible and toxic influence on young girls,” Jamil wrote. “I admire their mother’s branding capabilities, she is an exploitative but innovative genius, however this family makes me feel actual despair over what women are reduced to.”
MAYBE don’t take appetite suppressors and eat enough to fuel your BRAIN and work hard and be successful. And to play with your kids. And to have fun with your friends. And to have something to say about your life at the end, other than “I had a flat stomach.” pic.twitter.com/XsBM3aFtAQ
— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) May 16, 2018
But Jamil was far from the only person to call out Kardashian. Others took issue with the fact that her post fell directly in the middle of Eating Disorder Awareness week in England, saying it was a move that perpetuates the very body-image insecurities that fuel diseases like anorexia.
Eating disorders are a very real issue for a lot of young people and to see Kim Kardashian actively encouraging her fans to develop an unhealthy relationship with food is terrifying and gravely concerning. pic.twitter.com/hhFYBbm8hL
— Dr. Liam Hackett (@DiageoLiam) May 16, 2018
Although most of the lollipop controversy has fallen on Kardashian, she’s far from the only influencer promoting the pops. A simple search of the hashtag #flattummypops on Instagram shows celebrities from coast to coast posing with puckered lips. Among them: actress Tori Spelling, TV personality Cyn Santana, and Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice.
Sold in grape, watermelon, yellow apple, and berry flavors, the colorful pops are touted on Flat Tummy Co.’s site as a simple, fun, and delicious solution to overeating. “It works to maximise satiety (which helps control food intake, cravings and weight),” the description reads. “So with 1-2 pops per day, you’ll have your hunger under control and cravings in-check. Just have one whenever you start to feel hungry and it’ll help hold you over until your next meal!”
While the first two ingredients in the lollipops are sugar, the company says the clue to suppressing appetite lies in the secret ingredient: “Satiereal.” Described as a “clinically proven safe active ingredient,” it’s “extracted from natural plants,” says Flat Tummy. While that may make it sound healthy, nutritionists are suggesting otherwise.
Natalie Rizzo is one of them. A registered dietician in New York who specializes in sports nutrition, Rizzo says the science behind Satiereal isn’t exactly sound. “It’s a supplement, so it’s not approved by the FDA. It’s basically just an extract from a Spanish spice,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “There are one to two studies that show this supplement helps decrease appetite, but the claim in these studies is that it boosts your mood, so that’s why you eat less.” Even that, Rizzo says, is a stretch. “That’s [the researchers’] conjecture — it’s just a suggestion, they can’t show that’s why it happened.”
As someone who works to promote healthy body image and eating habits, Rizzo agrees with the internet that this is a step in the wrong direction. “At the end of the day, are you really going to eat this lollipop for the rest of your life? Because that’s what you would have to do to continue this habit,” she says. “We promote life-changing habits — this isn’t one of them.”
Rizzo says that even if the lollipops are effective (which, given science, doesn’t seem likely), they’re not conducive to a healthy lifestyle, and using them may make things worse. “I think when we try to suppress appetites, a lot of times it tends to lead to overeating or bingeing,” she says. “If you’re really hooked on these for a week and then you stop, you may feel hungrier and eat more than you would.”
After reviewing Kardashian’s Instagram, Rizzo says it’s troubling that she appears to want to change her appearance. “She looks healthy to me. I don’t know why she needs to be eating these,” she says. “It definitely gives the message that we should always be on a diet, and I don’t think that’s healthy. There’s definitely more of a move towards body positivity now, but this definitely goes against that.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle: