Laxatives should NEVER be used for weight loss — no matter what TikTok tells you

Nikki Sommer, a nurse with Key West Surgical Group, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5 FM for Medical Matters this morning.

Be very careful of TikTok trends – especially using laxatives for weight loss.

Sommer said, “Laxative abuse is actually an eating disorder and has been around for quite some time. But now there are certain I don’t know if you want to call them influencers or people posting, and they are using certain laxatives for weight loss, which is terrible for your overall health and your colon.”

Ozempic has been brought into the discussion.

Sommer explained, “Ozempic is a drug for Type 2 diabetes, that is also being used for weight loss. It’s a little bit of a controversy because it’s ozempic and wegovy, they’re the same drug, semaglutide. The company just had it FDA approved in two different forms for weight loss. There’s a shortage of wegovy, which led to a shortage of ozempic. It has really good results with weight loss, but it can be very expensive. The article’s stating that it’s trending on TikTok, and it’s not a good way to lose weight.”

Laxatives can lead to serious health problems and can keep you from absorbing nutrients you actually need.

Sommer said, “It’s not that you’re losing fat, you’re losing the volume in your body that keeps you hydrated, so you’re not losing, weight the correct way, in the way that you think you should.”

There are long term health risks of laxative overuse.

Sommer said, “Electrolyte imbalances, because if you do it every day, you can actually cause cardiovascular health issues, you have a chance of running low levels of potassium and magnesium, because that can lead to irregular heartbeats and even deadly arrhythmias, elevated blood pressure and heart failure in extreme cases. It is an eating disorder. If you go on TikTok, and you put this in, then you find people who actually are now in recovery from laxative abuse, telling their story. One lady had a feeding tube in her nose and she’s at home because now she has to recover from all the years of abusing laxatives. It’s really a serious thing on that level. On another level is for people that really do need it actually, I think NBC had reported that a few weeks ago, there was actually a shortage on the shelf of laxatives and there are people that need them, like, obviously, for your colonoscopy, but there are people that live with chronic constipation, that don’t abuse them, they just need them. As you get older, it becomes a problem. So then you have the people who really need them suffering that they can’t go to the store and get what they need.”

Psychologically people can become dependent.

Sommer said, “It becomes a dependency issue and one of the crazy TikToks, one girl is dancing around saying with the caption, I’m drinking coffee and taking my laxative to get skinny for my trip to Miami. Like what? It’s crazy.”

Laxatives just get rid of fluid in the body.

Sommer said, “The minute you stop, your body will rehydrate itself and the weight will come back on, so it’s not a good way to lose weight overall. We talked about dehydration. When you deplete your electrolytes, you’re setting your whole body up for a really bad set of events that could occur.”

What are safe ways to lose weight?

Sommer said, “Try minimizing your intake of processed foods. Have more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins. Fiber intake is a great way to keep your body in check. We’ve talked about certain fibers even help reduce your cholesterol like psyllium fiber, which is in Metamucil and then you know high fiber foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Really just eating a healthy diet and have healthy protein chicken, fish, eggs, tofu, if you’re a vegetarian, and low fat Greek yogurt. They’re really good if you’re hungry and you’re craving a snack. Having something high in protein, especially yogurt can help cure that craving to want to eat something and instead of grabbing like chocolate or cake or a doughnut or cookie, go for yogurt.”

The TikTok trend of using laxatives is not a long-term solution.

Sommer said, “If you’re going to social media, it could either be the angel or the devil in disguise. It’s a platform and we need to really trend people that teach us, not promote us to do bad things.”