Quick Weight Loss or Quackery?
Even smart people fall prey to quick weight loss gimmicks. WebMD explains why.
Sallie Elizabeth has always had large breasts and a big bottom,
and she has accepted them as part of her genetic makeup. But when cellulite
appeared in the back of her upper leg, she "freaked out" and resolved
to do something about it.
A friend recommended endermologie, a deep massage treatment
using a motorized device with two adjustable rollers and controlled suction.
The device is said to improve the look of cellulite by gently folding and
unfolding the skin for smooth and regulated deep-tissue movement.
The cellulite is "less visible," she says, noting her
smoother, softer skin. "I feel healthier. My circulation has improved ...
and I feel more relaxed."
To keep up the effects, the 20-something model visits Smooth
Synergy, a cosmedical spa in Manhattan, once or twice a week for 35-minute
sessions with the endermologie machine and a technician.
Elizabeth may be enjoying her cellulite-busting experience, but
experts raise eyebrows at many tools or treatments purported to reduce the
appearance of cellulite, trim fat in specific areas, shed pounds, or build
muscle -- particularly if they claim to replace exercise and good
"They're a waste of money," says Richard Cotton, a
spokesman for the American Council on Exercise and chief exercise physiologist
If that is the case, then a sizeable chunk of currency could be
going down the drain. According to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) weight loss
advertising trend report, in the year 2000 alone, consumers spent an estimated
$34.7 billion on weight-loss products and programs.
While it is not known how much of that accounts for sales of
unproven or fraudulent merchandise, an FTC study of weight loss ads from
different media shows that nearly 40% of ads make at least one false claim, and
an additional 15% make at least one claim that is very likely false, or lacks
To add to the number soup: Results from a national health
survey conducted between 1999 and 2000 indicate that more than six out of every
10 Americans are overweight or obese, a figure that has increased dramatically
in recent years.
Another recent survey that looked at the attitudes of Americans
adults toward their own weight found that despite the fact that two-thirds of
men were considered overweight, only about half (51%) said they wanted to lose
weight versus 68% of women who said they wanted to lose weight.
Put it all together and there are arguably more people wanting
to use weight loss products, and according to the government's trend report,
the "marketplace has responded with a proliferating array of products and
services, many promising miraculous, quick-fix remedies."
There are, indeed, numerous therapies, including weight loss
programs and dietary supplements. Then there are the popular treadmills, bun
and ab rollers, the body bow, and bun and thigh max.
For this piece, however, WebMD looked only into passive
exercise devices such as electrical muscle stimulators and toning tables,
cellulite reduction therapies, and gels, creams, eyeglasses, earrings and
similar doodads marketed for weight loss, and muscle-building.
Granted, not all remedies may be the same, but health
professionals say far too many of them can't be trusted.