Quick Weight Loss or Quackery?
Even smart people fall prey to quick weight loss gimmicks. WebMD explains why.
Passive Weight Loss
To Elizabeth's credit, she tries to eat right, jog, do Pilates,
and perform squats to supplement her endermologie sessions. In fact, good
nutrition and regular physical activity are recommended with the treatment.
However, many weight loss, cellulite-busting, and
muscle-building products promise results without having to do too much.
"It's the idea that an individual can get to the body size
they want without any increase in physical activity or without any change in
eating," says Jennifer Anderson, PhD, RD, professor and extension
specialist at Colorado State University's department of food science and human
She simply laughs at appetite-suppressing eyeglasses, weight
loss patches and chewing gum, toning gels, fat-melting creams, and evening
solutions that claim to trim waistlines during sleep.
"In some instances, it's a total gimmick," says
Anderson. "In other instances, it will reduce a lot of water weight
quickly, but it's never going to change eating behaviors, activity levels, and
make that the key to their lifestyle."
This quick water weight loss never leads to real, long-term
weight loss, says Anderson, noting that the only weight loss and toning plan
that works involves eating well and moving your body.
Furthermore, she says there is no proof that cellulite can be
massaged away or taken out by injections of vitamins, special underwear, or use
of other gizmos. To get rid of the dimpled fat, weight must be shed, and skin
made firmer by doing strength training.
Francie M. Berg, a licensed nutritionist, and founder of the
Healthy Weight Network, agrees. "If you want to tone your body or become
more fit, you need to do the work. It's not lying on a table, and having [a
gadget] lift your feet," she says referring to no-effort toning tables,
beds, and machines.
The value of toning and weight loss equipment depends on how
much work you can get a person to do to burn energy, says Berg, pointing out
that when people see desired results with normally passive devices and
treatments, it's usually because they've also made efforts to eat well or
Truth With a Twist
Berg coordinates the Task Force on Weight Loss Abuse for the
National Council Against Health Fraud, which gives out annual Slim Chance
Awards to selected weight loss products.
This year's "worst gimmick" prize went out to
MagnaSlim, which claims to relieve stress and its byproduct of overeating by
placing magnets and a magnetized solution at specific acupuncture points. The
magnet at the acupressure point would supposedly improve cell function, restore
Chi (life force energy), and give a person more control over what they put in
Weight loss promoters have long cashed in on the concept of
acupressure and magnetic therapy for weight loss, even though there is no proof
it works, says Berg. Items using similar concepts on the market include
magnetic weight-loss earrings, adhesives, beads, and seeds.