Quick Weight Loss or Quackery?
Even smart people fall prey to quick weight loss gimmicks. WebMD explains why.
Truth With a Twist continued...
It is apparently not uncommon for manufacturers to piggyback on
ideas and studies that may have genuine validity, and twist them for commercial
Another example would be the electrical muscle stimulators
(EMS) promoted to do anything from slough off weight to tone muscle to form
six-pack abs. Some ads claim this is possible without exercise.
Health experts scoff at such an idea, but do say EMS is a
valuable tool for physical therapy. "There are times when that really
helps," says Anderson, pointing to rehabilitation programs for people with
physical injuries or stroke-related debilitation.
"The problem I have with it is if it's being marketed as
muscle stimulation, and that will help you tone up and lose weight," says
Anderson. "Well, it probably will help you tone a little bit, but it
shouldn't take place of being more active and looking at how many calories we
put in our mouth each day."
Gad Alon, PhD, associate professor in the department of
physical therapy and rehabilitation science at the University of Maryland in
Baltimore, has studied the effects of EMS, and many promoters often refer to
his research in peddling their wares.
He says many of these marketers misuse his work, saying things
like, "Seven physicians at the University of Maryland have concluded that
you may never have to do sit-ups again."
First of all, says Alon, there were no physicians present for
the studies; he and his students conducted the studies, and they never
addressed the topic of weight loss.
Alon warns, though, that some EMS devices in the market might
not have the proper specifications to work properly. He says they may use
electrodes that do not have good conductivity, or some may be too small to
cover large muscle areas.
The Damage and What to Do About It
Some of the weight loss gadgets may seem too good to be true,
yet even smart people fall for them. Why are people so willing to believe these
quick and easy schemes?
"Hope springs eternal," says Edward Abramson, PhD, a
clinical psychologist, and author of Emotional Eating: What You Need to Know
Before Starting Another Diet. He says people are always looking for a
shortcut, especially for difficult, ongoing problems.
Besides losing money on bunk products, however, consumers could
get their hopes dashed. Abramson says repeated disappointments with weight loss
could undermine a person's overall sense of well-being. He says some people
could even internalize blame to a point that could lead to eating
Berg adds that false weight loss systems and goods could also
prevent people from seeking real treatment, interfere with responsible programs
that do work, and promote distrust of the medical community.
To avoid falling prey to such schemes, the FDA says consumers
should be particularly skeptical of claims containing words like easy,
effortless, guaranteed, miraculous, magical, breakthrough, new discovery,
mysterious, exotic, secret, exclusive, and ancient.