The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has warned the Singapore public not to consume two products, Bobba Fitz and Bobba Toxx -- often sold as a set -- marketed with claims that they could help with weight loss.
The products, sold on local e-commerce and social media platforms, were found to contain a banned substance and four times the usual dose of laxative, HSA said on March 1, 2021.
Laxatives and banned substances
Tests on Bobba Fitz showed that it contained sibutramine, a banned substance, and Bobba Tozz contained sennosides.
Sennosides is a laxative.
It is used for the relief of constipation.
Adverse effects include cramping, diarrhoea, as well as excessive loss of water and essential minerals when consumed at high levels.
The amount of sennosides in Bobba Tozz is about four times the usual dose.
"Prolonged use may cause chronic constipation, fluid and electrolyte abnormalities, bloating and abdominal pain," HSA said.
Sibrutramine was banned in Singapore in 2010.
It was previously available as a prescription-only weight loss medicine in Singapore.
But sibrutramine leads to an increased risk of heart attack and strokes.
Other serious adverse effects reported by consumers include insomnia, hallucinations and hearing voices.
Both products were packaged in boxes of 10 powder sachets.
"Do not trust online product reviews, as these testimonials usually cannot be verified," HSA added.
Bobba Fitz was labelled to contain natural ingredients such as whey protein, cocoa powder and Garcinia Cambogia, a fruit-derived ingredient.
HSA said it has worked with various platform administrators including Shopee, Lazada, Facebook and Instagram to remove the affected listings.
Warnings are also issued to the respective sellers.
Consequences of long-term use
A woman experienced palpitations and mood swings after consuming Bobba Fitz and Bobba Toxx.
This prompted HSA to issue the warning.
She has since stopped taking both products and the adverse effects have subsided, it added.
HSA said "the adverse effects would likely have worsened" if she had continued to consume them.
In 2019, a consumer experienced "extremely" fast heart rate and became unconscious, according to HSA.
She was resuscitated and suffered "debilitating consequences" requiring implantation with a defibrillator.
Public can report sale of these products to HSA
HSA said there is no "quick and easy way" to lose weight.
Weight control should be achieved through a combination of balanced diet and appropriate exercise.
Consumers who need help managing their weight should consult their doctor, dietitian or a healthcare professional.
The authority added it will not hesitate to take "stern" enforcement actions against anyone who sells or supplies products found to be adulterated with banned substances or potent ingredients.
HSA warned that sellers and suppliers are liable to prosecution. If convicted, they may be imprisoned for up to two years, fined up to S$10,000 or both.
Members of the public who have any information on the sale and supply of the products may also contact HSA's enforcement branch at 6866 3485 during office hours on Monday to Friday or email [email protected]
All photos via HSA