Kim Kardashian is getting backlash for promoting appetite-suppressing lollipops on Instagram, but experts say more and more companies are using influencers like her to hawk their products.
The American celebrity posted about the Flat Tummy lollipops Wednesday night to her more than 100 million followers.
“You guys… @flattummyco has just dropped a new product. Appetite Suppressant Lollipops and they’re literally unreal,” she wrote.
More than 1 million people liked the post, but it also drew lots criticism, before Instagram removed it — accidentally, according to the social media site.
“Great role model for young women. Don’t eat,” one comment read.
“Please don’t promote this and encourage young women to do this,” said another. “Eating and being hungry is being human. This is sick.”
The lollipops are available in four flavours and contain satiereal, which the website calls “a clinically proven safe active ingredient extracted from natural plants.”
“I’m pretty skeptical when it comes to some of these products,” said registered dietician Stefania Palmeri.
“Oftentimes they have a lot of big health claims that are unsubstantiated. Taking a look at the website where these products are promoted, there’s not a lot of science. There aren’t a lot of links to research.
“There are big claims in terms of detoxing and belly fat … but nothing to back that up. So that to me is a huge red flag.”
The website recommends one or two “pops” per day to control hunger and cravings.
“They don’t have a lot of transparency on their website,” Palmeri said. “They kind of claim natural flavours and natural ingredients. But what does the term ‘natural’ mean? That isn’t a regulated term.”
A marketing expert said she expects to see more and more of this type of advertising.
“If you’re using an influencer, especially Kim Kardashian, you’re opening yourself up to a much larger audience,” said Katie Lebel, an associate professor at Ryerson University.
“You’re probably not going to catch as many people through traditional marketing means. So you’ve got automatic access to a million people that are looking to see what people are interested (in) — somebody that they look up to and role model.
“So there’s an authenticity that comes with their recommendation of a particular product. For a lot of different reasons it’s proven to be a much more effective means to reach people.”
The company admits the statements on its site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and its products “are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”
Flat Tummy Co. did not respond to a request for comment.