Problematic on TikTok is a weekly column that unpacks the troubling trends that are emerging on the popular platform and runs on Tuesdays in the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter. If you want to get this column a day before we publish it, subscribe to web_crawlr, where you’ll get the daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.
In 2016, you couldn’t scroll through a Kardashian’s Instagram profile without seeing an advertisement for Flat Tummy Tea, a drink mix that has “diuretic and laxative effects” that produces water weight loss. Water weight loss, which tends to happen when you get the stomach flu, is fast-acting and easily reversible—meaning, when you recover and stop expelling body fluids, that lost water weight comes back.
TikTok’s new water weight loss method—a mixture of Olly probiotic gummies and Poppi prebiotic soda—doesn’t have celebrity endorsements, but videos of people discussing the method have millions of views.
“This is how I lost seven pounds in one week,” Sara, the TikTok creator who says she is responsible for the Olly and Poppi craze, says in her video where she describes that she took two Olly gummies each morning, drank a lot of water and one Poppi soda. “I guess [I lost] a pound a day.”
Commenters on Sara’s video said they were running to the store to get the products she mentioned and many commented how much they weigh and discussed their hopes for weight loss.
Others have shared their experiences with the diuretic combo, and some have reported debloating. However, most videos describe the serious diarrhea that taking Olly and drinking Poppi gave them.
“I figured out why you lose weight when you take the Olly vitamins and the Poppi drinks,” a TikToker said in her video about the trend. “I took one dose—one dose—and I have been shitting water diarrhea out of my ass four times a day for the past week.”
Why it matters
TikToker Alexis Walker called out the discrepancy between how the products mentioned are marketed by their manufacturers (to aid digestion) and how people on TikTok are touting them (for weight loss).
“One thing I noticed on TikTok is how heavily [eating disorder] coded a lot of the language is, especially when marketing products,” Walker says in her video. “Using words like ‘weight loss’ attracts a very specific crowd, which these influencers know when marketing these products.”
And that “very specific crowd” can include people with eating disorders, people experiencing disordered eating, or even people who might develop an eating disorder after losing water weight by eating Olly gummies and Poppi drinks: The repeated behavior of abusing laxatives in order to lose weight is considered bulimia nervosa.
To Walker’s point, posting about a dieting trend for views and engagement without calling the trend what it really is—a disordered eating behavior—isn’t worth the harm it inevitably will cause.
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