by Shant Shahrigian
He’s clashing with the Kardashians.
A Manhattan pol shouted “shame on you!” at Kim, Khloé and the rest of the gang on Tuesday, decrying their promotion of weight-loss “detox teas” that, he says, potentially cause bodily harm and prey on the insecurities of young women in particular.
“I’m going to name names: Kim Kardashian, Khloé Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Amber Rose … shame on you!” Councilman Mark Levine (D-Upper Manhattan) thundered at a Monday hearing. “Shame on all of you for using the trust you have established with young people to push these products, to push these dangerous products, because you wanted to receive lucrative contracts.”
Levine is pushing for a law to ban sales of detox teas, shakes and similar products to New Yorkers under age 18. The goods are marketed as helping with weight loss and cleansing the body, but are raising growing alarm for their potential health effects.
Kids wouldn’t be able to buy senna- and saffron-based products in particular, under Levine’s bill. Senna, a laxative, is “generally safe” but “can cause adverse events including clinically apparent liver injury when used in high doses for longer than recommended periods,” according to the National Institute of Health.
Last year, Kim Kardashian promoted shakes from the Flat Tummy Co., a popular quick-slimming product. “You guys all know I looove @flattummyco shakes,” she posted on Instagram. “These meal replacement shakes are so good and they're helping me get my tummy back to flat.”
Actress Jameela Jamil has campaigned against celebrity promotion of products like that and embraced Levine’s bill.
“As someone who struggled with an eating disorder for most of my youth, I have personally known and suffered the long term effects of the devious side of the diet/detox industry,” she said in a statement. “I am committed to this fight and proud to stand with New York as they consider signing legislation to protect the physical and mental health of young people.”
Through their publicist, the Kardashians declined to comment.
Detox products are drawing growing scrutiny around the globe, with New Zealand banning a number of detox teas this month. But a de Blasio official shied away from supporting Levine’s legislation.
“To date, we have not received any complaints about these types of products and do not have the expertise to assess the nutritional effects of these products,” said Dr. Myla Harrison, an assistant commissioner at the Health Department.
“We would like to investigate this issue and discuss further with Council the best way to address the potentially harmful effects of these products,” she added.
“I’m perplexed at your response to the legislation,” Levine replied. “I want you to register this hearing as a complaint about these products.”
He said detox teas and shakes can block both nutrients and medication, causing damage to the liver, colon and other areas of the body.
“Given these risks, it might be shocking to learn that a celebrity would endorse such products,” said Levine, who’s running for Manhattan borough president. “Celebrity endorsements have played a major role in their proliferation.”