Monday, February 11, 2013

The Real Diet Busters

Each year, Frances M. Berg, M.S. of the Healthy Weight Network presents to promoters of weight-loss products the "Slim Chance Awards" in four categories:  worst claim, worst product, worst gimmick and most outrageous.  I came across a list of those awards for past 24 years on the diet scam website.  That’s nearly 100 products or advice sold to people to help them lose weight that mostly just helped them lose money. 

How desperate do you have to be to believe some of this stuff?  Examples include miracle potions and cleansing products that guarantee healthy weight loss.  Use a plastic bracelet that gives off vibes to stimulate weight loss and good health (2011).  “FDA cited 69 weight loss ‘supplements’ containing hidden, potentially harmful drugs or toxic substances, most imported from China, and says there may be hundreds more” (2009).  Slimming Slippers supposedly use reflexology, magnets, and the laws of gravity to increase metabolism by activating nerves in your foot to control digestion and eating habits (2000).  They have promoted belts, patches, jeans, body wraps, and even ear staples (2006).  Scientifically speaking, this is pure hogwash.

Several of descriptions of the “award-winning” products and claims mention government action (Food and Drug Administration or Federal Trade Commission) or class action lawsuits that were in progress at the time to protect us from dangers, to reimburse defrauded customers or to stop false advertising.

Losing weight is a classic example of behavior requiring discipline.  The process is easy to understand, eat less and exercise more, but carrying through on that program is very difficult.  We are naturally drawn to promises of an easy way out.  Beyond all those products and gimmicks, Amazon lists 39,472 paperback books and 19,375 hardcover books on the subject.  These, sometimes dangerous, guarantees of instant success are the real diet busters because there is no silver bullet, no easy way out or magic solution.  Everyone knows this, but the temptation to deny it in favor of a miracle cure is often too great.

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