By now, most of you will have seen the photo above. It has sparked outrage, and for good reason. Sold by the Flat Tummy Co., these lollipops act to suppress hunger pangs. While these candies claim to be safe, the truth is they may be far from it. In fact, these suckers are dangerous in just about every way possible. Not only do they market themselves to a young and vulnerable population (read more below), but they also interfere with signals our bodies depend upon to function at full capacity. Oh, and did I mention that they’re NOT FDA APPROVED?! These pops are a mess, but let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we?
Children (ages 2-18) are the greatest consumers of candy worldwide, accounting for over 31% of total confectionary consumption annually. What that means is that kids are societally programmed – from their youngest moments – to want and to consume candy. They’re especially susceptible to candy marketing, which is generally colorful to connect with younger audiences. Looking at the billboard in the photo above, the color – albeit “Millennial Pink” – is bright and attractive to kids, while the model is styled in attire common to teens and tweens today. The underlying result? A treat that’s going to tempt young kids to try them, whether they’re healthy for them or not. (Hint: they’re not.)
Note: At the time this article was written, the Flat Tummy Co. Website has no warning that these are not suitable or safe for children, despite nutritionists generally agreeing that children and teens should not consume appetite-suppressants.
Suppressing One’s Appetite
Let me state up front that I’m not a nutritionist. That said, in my profession (personal trainer + group fitness instructor + bopo advocate for all), nutrition is king; I’m continually doing my research on the latest scientific advancements, trends and tips. Which is why I can say with 100% confidence that for the vast majority of the population, appetite-suppressant ANYTHING is unhealthy That’s because our bodies rely on our hunger cues to fulfill needs for fuel. (Food = fuel.) Without hunger cues, our brains wouldn’t know when it’s time to eat. As kids, we’re great at listening to our hunger cues – we ask for food when we’re hungry and generally stop when full. As we get older, work schedules and other environmental constraints mess with our natural rhythms a bit, but the ability to feel hunger and feed ourselves is key to survival, the same way breathing and sleeping are. Imagine being in a giant bubble bath, taking a deep breath and going under the water. What would happen if we didn’t receive the signal that it was time to go up for more oxygen?? Something awful, of course! Likewise, our brains rely on our appetite to keep our bodies up and running safely. Without them, we risk going too low on fuel and, overtime, doing real damage to ourselves.
Thinness Is Often Dangerous
The goal of these lollipops is clear: lose weight, lose belly fat, be thin. The problem is that not all bodies are meant to be naturally thin. Health can and does exist in many sizes, and when we encourage individuals to treat their bodies like pieces of wood to be whittled away instead of as homes to be lived in, we promote disordered eating, eating disorders and body dissatisfaction. In the US alone, over 11 million people suffer from eating disorders – and these are only the folks who have been identified! To make matters worse, without treatment, approximately 20% of those with eating disorders die due to complications related to their disorder. As if all of this wasn’t bad enough, 86% of patients with eating disorders say their symptoms began before the age of 20. That means that there is a GIGANTIC OVERLAP between the target audience for candy (2-18) and those developing eating disorders. Throw in candy meant to stop your appetite and we’ve got a recipe for disaster – one that could potentially be deadly.
Now that we’re all aware of just how evil these suckers are (pun intended), what is there to do about it!? Well, to start with, sign this petition to get the billboards removed. You can also:
- Support body positive activists and movements by following accounts on social media (bodyposipanda, nourishandeat, and mamacaxx are a few of my faves!)
- Help educate others by sharing body positive (read: anti-diet industry) information on the social media platforms that you use (ideas here include bopo books and articles you’ve read, posts from others you find inspiring and news that’s relevant)
- Donate to causes and institutions that help promote awareness of disordered eating OR to organizations that help stop hunger globally (click here for a great list of orgs that are doing good in this department)
How do you support other individuals and other women in the face of the diet industry? I’d love to know what other forms of activism are out there, as well as how you’re educating yourselves and your families (and your kids!!) about all of this and how to handle it.
Xoxo as always,
Featured Image: Jameela Jamil via Twitter