Truth With a Twist continued...
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 disorders.