Sunday, October 1, 2023

Demand for laxatives increases due to a trend on TikTok


  • Videos posted on TikTok promote the use of laxatives to lose weight.
  • In pharmacies, demand for laxative products is increasing to the point of creating supply problems.
  • Doctors are concerned about the consequences of this trend.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find laxatives in the United States. The person responsible for this shortage is the social network TikTok: there we find videos that recommend the use of these drugs to lose weight or relieve swelling. They are referred to in particular with the hashtag #GutTok, which already has more than one billion views. According to the Wall Street Journal, some pharmacies are experiencing shortages, but the Food and Drug Administration, the body that regulates drugs in the country, is not seeing a national shortage at this time.

TikTok: Laxative manufacturers see growing demand

According to the American media NBC News, several pharmaceutical laboratories have noticed an increase in demand. “In recent months, we have seen unprecedented demand for Dulcolax products,” a Sanofi spokesperson said. “As a result, some retailers may temporarily not have certain Dulcolax products on their shelves.” In its article, the Wall Street Journal reveals that demand for polyethylene glycol 3350, the generic name for MiraLax, has caused shortages in some US pharmacies.

This increase occurs after videos published mainly on TikTok: they extol the merits of these laxatives for weight loss, the “detox” or to reduce swelling. “It’s falling into the hands of people, especially young people, who are saying, ‘Oh, this is an option. This is something I could potentially use,'” says Kendrin Sonneville, associate professor of nutritional sciences at the School of Public Health. at the University of Michigan, in the NBC news article.

Laxatives: a TikTok trend that worries health professionals

Laxative medications are recommended when a person suffers from constipation and lifestyle changes do not improve anything (playing sports, eating more fiber, etc.). These products will use the water present in the body to soften the stool and thus facilitate its evacuation. “If you are thinking about using laxatives to lose weight, all you are doing is evacuating water and feces, which are not part of your body.” mass,” warns Dr. William Chey, chief of the division of gastroenterology at the University of Michigan, in the columns of NBC News. This means that any weight lost will be regained as soon as the person is adequately hydrated again.

Additionally, these medications can cause side effects such as cramps, bloating, or gas. Excessive use can have more serious consequences: dehydration, nausea, vomiting, low levels of potassium in the blood, which can increase the risk of suffering a heart attack, pancreatitis or even kidney stones.

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