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Ban celebrity ads for diet aids, says NHS
Ban celebrity ads for diet aids, says NHS

Social media companies should ban "damaging" celebrity-endorsed social media ads promoting weight loss aids, England's top doctor has said.

Some celebrities with large followings are promoting products such as diet pills and detox teas on social media.

Prof Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, argues these products have a damaging effect on the physical and mental health of young people.

He is also urging influential celebrities to act "responsibly".

Prof Powis said: "If a product sounds like it is too good to be true, then it probably is.

"The risks of quick-fix weight loss outweigh the benefits, and advertising these products without a health warning is damaging.

"Highly influential celebrities are letting down the very people who look up to them, by peddling products which are at best ineffective and at worst harmful.

"Social media companies have a duty to stamp out the practice of individuals and companies using their platform to target young people with products known to risk ill health," he said.

'Fires lit by other people'

Some influential celebrities have promoted weight loss aids for payment on social media, and this type of advertising is growing as brands realise how influential their posts are with young people.

The Competition and Markets Authority recently announced a clampdown on celebrities who do not clearly label their posts as being paid-for advertisements, but there are few rules around what they can promote.

NHS England's national mental health director Claire Murdoch told BBC Breakfast that the intention was not to "suppress business or comment on what good business looks like".

However, she expressed concern over the influence these celebrities had over young people at an "impressionable" stage in their lives.

"Both the celebrities themselves and these social media companies themselves should be more responsible," she added.

'A toxic influence'

Kim Kardashian West, who has 126 million followers on Instagram, . She later deleted the post.

In January, she posted an ad promoting meal replacement shakes.

Skip Instagram post by kimkardashian View this post on Instagram #ad You guys all know I looove @flattummyco shakes. I've just restarted them (it's Day 2 today) and I’m already feeling so good. We had a huuuuge Christmas this year and between that, New Years and everything inbetween… I felt like it was impossible to fit in my regular work outs and eat healthy. But this program is giving me a kick in the right direction that I need. These meal replacement shakes are so good and they're helping me get my tummy back to flat. I’m already feeling amazing and I’m so excited for the next few weeks. Because they’re all about getting women back on track… they’ve got a 20% off sale going on right now, so if you want to start 2019 off right… trust me, you’re going to want to check them out. PS. I’m doing the chocolate program
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