If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. You die on a diet. Radical weight loss is beyond unhealthy. It’s flat out dangerous for the human body.
But some of the mind-numbingly ridiculous weight loss ads on television, radio, the internet and in magazines prey on people’s insecurity and desperation by making claims that are just silly.
If you feel you can lose weight by rubbing some kind of ointment on your skin, raise your hand.
If you feel you can lose weight by sprinkling magic powder on your food, raise your hand.
If you feel any type of non-surgical weight loss is possible without exercise or proper nutrition, raise your hand.
I don’t see any hands.
Yet companies continue to make these claims in their advertising, and many people actually believe their claims because they trust the media outlets that run them. If your favorite channel, station, website or magazine ran the commercial, it must be true, right?
Finally, we have action in Washington. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, has ordered media companies to be more vigilant in scrutinizing ads for weight loss products. It also dropped the hammer on the makers of some of these bogus products in the form of multimillion dollar deceptive ad settlements.
The initiative is called Operation Failed Resolution.
For example, Sensa Products sells a powdered food additive that alleges to miraculously make people feel full faster. By eating less, you lose weight without exercise or proper nutrition. Wow!
According to Ad Age, the FTC hit Sensa with a $46.5 million judgment and an order to pay $26.5 million in refunds for its ridiculous advertising, which also didn’t disclose paid endorsements. In other words, people were paid $1000-$5,000 and given trips to Los Angeles in exchange for their endorsements.
To help the media spot bogus weight loss claims, the FTC has released a list of seven “Gut Check” statements that should be obvious signs of deception. I find it surprising that such a list is necessary, but I guess media outlets need to see it in writing before turning away advertising dollars.
The FTC tells media companies: If one of these seven claims crosses your desk, do a gut check. Consult the appropriate person in your company and think twice before running any ad that says a product:
- causes weight loss of two pounds or more a week for a month or more without dieting or exercise;
- causes substantial weight loss no matter what or how much the consumer eats;
- causes permanent weight loss even after the consumer stops using product;
- blocks the absorption of fat or calories to enable consumers to lose substantial weight;
- safely enables consumers to lose more than three pounds per week for more than four weeks;
- causes substantial weight loss for all users; or
- causes substantial weight loss by wearing a product on the body or rubbing it into the skin.
The Gut Check notification also goes over the basics about advertising weight loss products – basics that have been the law for quite some time. Perhaps these laws will finally be enforced.
Finally, a step in the right direction after decades of inaction by the folks in Washington. Will they take the next step and do something about the lethal substances in processed foods, soda and other so-called foods and beverages that are slowly killing us?
I won’t hold my breath, but I won’t stop calling out the companies that make and sell these harmful products either. Neither should you.
Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician and health educator who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise for the past two decades has been in physical rehabilitation, and he has successfully established himself as a spinal specialist. In his practice, he advocates the science of functional medicine, which takes an integrative approach to treating patients by addressing their physical, nutritional, and psychological needs. Alarmed by the escalation of complex, chronic illness in our country, Dr. Proodian has been speaking to companies and organizations through his “Wellness at Work” program since 1994, motivating thousands of people to make positive lifestyle choices and lead healthier, more productive lives. He can be heard weekly on his radio program, “Proodian Healthcare By Design,” on Tandem Radio.