If you are active on Instagram, a photo-centric social media platform, it is highly likely you’ve seen your favorite celebs and influencers promote FitTea: an online-based brand known for its tea detoxes, i.e., “teatoxes,” that the brand claims promote weight loss. Kylie Jenner and big sis Kourtney Kardashian (with 90.5 million and 55.2 million Instagram followers, respectively) are two of the many well-known FitTea promoters.
According to The Fashion Law, the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) began investigating FitTea last year, “after receiving complaints from consumers regarding [the company’s] posting of disclosure-less endorsements and unsubstantiated health claims.”
“Upon initiating an investigation of FitTea, NAD claims that the company modified its website to include the ‘#ad’ disclosure on the paid-for Instagram endorsements, and vowed to require paid endorsers to disclose their connection to the company and to monitor posts to ensure compliance,” The Fashion Law continues.
“Moreover, the NAD held that FitTea should separate its endorsements and testimonials from its authentic product reviews on its website, as well as to prominently distinguish which reviews on its website are authentic user reviews and which are not.’”But, proper advertising practices and transparent disclosures are only half the battle. FitTea is also under fire for false weight-loss and other health-related claims.
“The NAD criticized the content of some FitTea’s paid for endorsements, namely ones that assert that consuming FitTea helps to promote with weight loss,” according to The Fashion Law.
Per The Fashion Law, the NAD decision states, “While the diet and exercise program that FitTea promotes to customers who purchase FitTea might result in weight loss or other weight-related health improvements, there was no evidence in the record that drinking FitTea by itself will boost metabolism, boost immunity, burn fat or otherwise result in weight loss.”
Upon its findings, the NAD stated that FitTea should abstain from publishing or re-publishing the false weight-loss testaments on its website.
Despite the issues at hand, “none of the influencers at issue, such as the Kardashian/Jenners, actresses Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Bella Thorne, Lindsay Lohan and Sarah Hyland, among others, [as well as] the huge array of Instagram famous models, were named in the action,” according to The Fashion Law.
“As such, the burden falls exclusively on the advertising company [i.e., FitTea] to ensure that the individuals it is paying disclose properly.”Detox teas are not the only web-based brand falsely promoting such claims. In fact, Galore points out that diet pills like QuickTrim, Instagram-famous waist trainers and body wraps (such as those from It Works!) are all guilty of deceptive advertising.
“Nowadays there are endless diet tips and weight loss supplements out there, all promising to help us lose weight and live happier, healthier lives. It’s tough to figure out what’s the real deal and what isn’t. But there’s one marketing ploy that’s always a red flag, and it looks like this: ‘When combined with a healthy diet and exercise,’” Galore writer Kayla Jackson points out.
“If a product will only help you lose weight ‘when combined with a healthy diet and exercise,’ then guess what? That product isn’t doing jack shit. It’s the healthy diet and exercise that are making you lose weight, not [whichever] garbage product you’re combining it with.
Jackson spoke with exercise physiologist and nutritionist Dr. Bill Sukala to confirm the issue.
“Just because something is sold over the counter does not automatically mean that it’s been vetted by health authorities and has been deemed safe or effective,” Sukala tells Jackson.
“Losing weight the natural way through exercise and eating healthy is and always has been the smartest and cheapest way to ensure success.”
Jackson specifically explains the problem with body wraps from pyramid schemes like It Works! While they do in fact promote weight loss on their own (i.e., sans diet and exercise), all of it comes from water weight.
“Once you rehydrate the weight that is lost comes right back,” Jackson says.
“This product is a quick fix if you want to lose weight immediately, but the results do not last long at all.”
However, both Jackson and Sukala find detox teas the most problematic of all the Insta-famous dieting fads.
“Once a person has lost weight from a ‘detox’, [he or she] will inevitably gain it back in short time,” Sukala says.
“This is because most of the weight loss was in the form of feces and fluid. If the person was dieting and drastically cutting calories, then there might have been some fat loss, but probably also a loss of valuable metabolism-boosting muscle.”