TikTok under fire for promoting weight loss aids to children

TikTok has removed postings marketing migraine and epilepsy medications to those under the age of 18 as weight loss aids, following complaints that hosting them posed a risk to the health of young people. 

The social media site took action when the Pharmaceutical Journal reported that users were being given prescription medications as diet tablets.

Despite being listed as a female under 16, the journal discovered that adverts for epilepsy, alcohol and addiction, and migraine medications were marketed to a TikTok user.

The prescription medicines that were most frequently referenced in the posts were the appetite suppressant phentermine and its products. In the UK, phentermine is not authorised for use.

Also read | US FDA warns against viral TikTok challenge where people cook food with flu medicine 

The journal discovered that during 90 minutes of monitoring the platform’s output, 31 of the top 100 posts encouraged the usage of diet pills by those seeking to lose weight. However, medical professionals opined that doing this could injure people of all ages and was “totally improper.” Some of the medications TikTok advertised have been connected to major negative effects like birth abnormalities.

The journal claimed TikTok did remove some videos, but not every one it had discovered. The hashtag “diet pills” had been examined, and “several accounts” that sold weight-loss medications had been blocked, as reported by the Guardian. 

On Wednesday, TikTok came under fire for allowing cannabis-based treats that were altered to resemble Skittles and Haribo candy packages to be sold on its platform.