Blumenthal urges probe of 'detox teas' touted as weight loss miracles

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Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to open up an investigation into popular "detox teas," often promoted by celebrities on social media as weight loss miracles.

Blumenthal said the "false promotion as shortcuts to healthy weight loss and management" and the use of "misleading and predatory marketing practices" make the products dangerous to consumers, most of whom are teenagers and young adults.

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Celebrities, models and influencers, from the Kardashians to Lindsey Lohan, have touted the teas as necessities in their weight loss regimens as a way to sway consumers to buy them, and brands are willing to pay good money for those social media endorsements. 

Reality star Khloe Kardashian plugs weight loss tea on her Instagram in a sponsored post. (Khloe Kardashian Instagram)

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Reality television stars can earn $10,000 to $300,000 per Instagram post, depending on the number of social media followers they have, how much audience engagement they command and how much power the star's personal brand has, according to reports by Forbes.

In an attempt to protect consumers against misleading marketing tactics in 2017, the FTC began mandating that influencers on social media explicitly state when a post is sponsored by #ad or #partner.

Still, the lack of regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on detox teas from brands like Flat Tummy Tea, Fit Tea, Bootea, SkinnyMint Tea and others have spotlighted what some see as a need for closer scrutiny of the products, which are commonly infused with diuretics, laxatives and stimulants like caffeine to speed up weight loss.

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Side effects of some teas pose a threat to consumers, who may be at risk of bowel damage, heart function disorders, muscle weakness and damage to their livers, Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal called for the FDA and the FTC to work in tandem to investigate the teas “to increase efforts to inform the public about the true harms of these teas, and to take steps to ensure that consumers are not duped by these dangerous, under-regulated products.”