Health

This Child Star Reveals the Dangerous Way She Was Forced to Lose Weight

July 27th 2016

By:
Laura Donovan

It's been more than a decade since Joanna "JoJo" Levesque became the youngest pop-singer to land a chart-topping single with her song "Leave (Get Out)." But being a child star wasn't all smooth sailing, and JoJo recently shared the "most unhealthy thing" she was pressured to do to maintain her stardom.

In a video interview with PopSugar, she said she was once coerced into getting weight loss injections to boost her career prospects at age 18.

"I was under a lot of pressure from a company that I was previously working with, and they wanted me to lose weight fast, so they got me with a nutritionist and had me, like, on all these supplements, and like, I was injecting myself," she said. "This is a common thing that girls do by the way, like 'the girls' or whatever. It makes your body only need certain calories, so I ate 500 calories a day. This was the most unhealthy thing I had ever done, and then I gained all the weight back. I felt terrible about myself, and I was upset that I even subscribed to the standard that they wanted me to be at."

She added that the weight loss plan was a waste of time anyway, as her album was never released despite these efforts to slim down.

"I felt like, 'If I don't do this, my album won't come out,'" she said. "And it didn't! So it's not like it even worked!"

The singer was mired in a lengthy legal battle with Blackground Records, whom she signed a multi-record contract with when she was just 12 years old. She was finally released from the contract in 2013.

JoJo's remarks highlight just some of the unpleasant realities of weight loss injections.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has adamantly campaigned against human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), injections for weight loss purposes, claiming there is "no substantial evidence that [it] increases weight loss." HCG use is approved by the FDA for fertility treatment, but it warns against using HCG products for weight loss because they carry potential health risks.

As JoJo hinted to in her comments, the creator of HCG touted it "as a potent appetite suppressant that would make anything more than 500 daily calories unbearable."

Needle

"FDA has received reports of serious adverse events associated with the use of HCG injections for weight loss including cases of pulmonary embolism, depression, cerebrovascular issues, cardiac arrest, and death," the FDA says on its website. "FDA advises consumers who are using 'homeopathic' HCG for weight loss to stop using the product, to stop following any labeled dieting instructions, and to discard the product."

Dr. David Katz, the founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, told Prevention in 2011 that using HCG products for weight loss can come at a huge cost, saying, "You will part with both money and pounds, but you may also part with your life." 

Check out PopSugar's full interview with JoJo below: