Can you imagine a car company advertisement: “Never use another drop of gasoline again, and drive as far as you want”? What would happen to an investment firm that guaranteed to “double your money overnight with no risk”? Or how about mortgage companies that tout, “no money down, no interest, own your own home, whether or not you can pay for it.”
Oh, wait. The last statement did happen – and we are still dealing with the results. So why can so many in the weight loss industry make equally blatant false claims and still remain in business? More importantly, why do normally rational, intelligent people ignore what they know and put their faith in untested, poorly documented, heavily hyped diets listed on dubious web pages or shouted at us during 30-minute infomercials?
Like the coal fire in Pennsylvania that’s been burning for 50 years; no matter what we try, we cannot make the yearly onslaught of false claims and unreliable statistics that permeate the media at the beginning of each year go away.
If the results weren’t so dangerous (gambling with our health), some of the claims would be laughable: “Lose 20 pounds in one week!” “Don’t exercise or change what you eat — while dropping weight overnight!” Of course, there are always my favorites, the conspiratorial, secretive, clandestine ones: “The weight loss program the diet industry doesn’t want you to know about!”
I found a web page dedicated to reviewing virtually any diet it could find.
Listed there were 610 titles (yes, I counted) with an incredibly wide range of names. Some touted main ingredients including everything from cabbage, to cookies, to chocolate. Others tried to break through the noise by name dropping, authored or endorsed by doctors, celebrities, and chefs. The founding location of the diet was heralded many times, listing countries in every continent except Antarctica (but I’m sure that will change over time). They couldn’t agree on how long it takes to develop that new “super calm sexy slim bod;” figures ran the gamut from three hours to a longer-term approach of 120 years. Some whose names stood out to were the “World Peace Diet” and “Big Fat Boyfriend Diet.” I must admit the “Promiscuous Diet” and the “Martini Diet” did create interesting mental images. As an FYI, aside from words specifically referencing calories, diet or eating, the three most popular words in the titles were (in order): “Raw,” “Detox,” and “Life.” One could therefore logically assume that the “Celebrity doctor, St. Tropez, raw, detox, low-calorie, three-hour, world-peace, chocolate cookie, chef-designed diet that even-your-fat-boyfriend would like, diet” would be a huge hit.
In all seriousness, many of the over-600 programs are healthy and legitimate ways to shrink your waistline, improve your health, and prolong your life. But my fear — coupled with decades of experience — is that the only thing that will shrink after using several of these diets is your bank account.
Losing weight does not necessitate a “miracle cure” nor a fancy locale tacked to its moniker.
One will not get healthy by avoiding all “bad foods” nor only consuming copious amounts of “anti-oxidant super foods.” Quackery in the form of pills, potions, and powders is simply not going to work; never has, never will.
The answer has been around since cave dwellers learned how chase and cook mastodons: move more and eat less, while allowing nature do what it’s designed to do. It might not be quick, but despite what you’ll hear over the next few months, it’s the only solution there is — and you don’t even need a credit card number and a website to get it.