It appears that there are unlimited options available for anyone hoping to lose weight. Just turn on your TV, check your email, open your local newspaper or thumb through a glossy magazine and you will quickly be inundated with slick ads. These come-ons tout a wide variety of claims that you will enjoy amazing, never-before-achieved results in only 1 week! Lose up to 10 lbs in your first week!!!!
Of course, there are often before and after pictures inserted into these ads. The before pictures too often seem to be a pic of a woman posing awkwardly, wearing a somewhat sour look, dressed in something really unfashionable, and in the worst of the ads she has many, unseemly bulges, some pretty serious acne and for unclear reasons she forgot to brush her hair before the picture was taken. In the after pictures we are often presented with a svelte profile of an ecstatic customer, flashing a wide, full toothed, ear-to-ear, grin, posing in a gorgeous bikini or she is holding her waistband way out in front. She looks radiantly healthy, well coiffed and inexplicably has beautiful skin…is is possible that she has managed to cure her acne outbreak with her diet program?
There are all kinds of fantastic claims made in these ads as well. I’ve seen some that allege you can lose 4 pounds for as little as $16, It’s as if you can simply buy the results you want! And they all seem to incorporate some kind of special “trick” into their program that is guaranteed to turn you into a runway fashion model. Among the most popular options I see promoted are an assortment of carefully selected vitamins, B12 shots, expensive beta-HCG intramuscular injections, food substitutes, metabolism enhancers and fat-burners.
And if you’ve tried any of these programs I’m sure you were eventually disappointed when you realized that the program didn’t work very well. Most customers do lose some weight of course, but much too often the weight loss is disappointingly small, short-lived and worst yet, you may end up heavier than when you started. You may already be aware that yo-yo dieting has been shown to be really bad for your health. It’s actually even worse than doing nothing and yet commercial weight loss programs remain extremely popular. You know all the names of these companies by heart so I won’t list them here – unfortunately their advertisements are everywhere!
What these programs seem to be lacking is a scientific method ! So many useless, unproven, or potentially harmful things are being foisted on hopeful, overweight people who need effective and proven help the most. The fact remains that the weight loss industry is still highly sought after, insanely profitable, and largely unregulated. According to data by Marketdata Enterprises, a market research firm that specializes in tracking niche industries, Americans spend north of $60 billion annually to try to lose pounds, on everything from paying for gym memberships and joining weight-loss programs to drinking diet soda.
In addition to the costs of dieting efforts, being obese or overweight itself is quite costly. Brace yourself, as these numbers are truly staggering. The medical care costs of obesity in the United States in 2008 dollars, according to an article in Health Affairs, were estimated to be $147 billion. According to another article from Obesity Review, the annual, nationwide, productive costs of obesity-related absenteeism range between $3.38 billion ($79 per obese individual) and $6.38 billion ($132 per obese individual).
These excessive costs continue to mount, in part because the approaches being used are often wrong-headed and in part because obesity continues to increase at an alarming rate in America. These facts are less surprising when we consider the fact that there is still so much misinformation out there about food, nutrition and health. Unfortunately the government, dietitians, teachers and yes, even doctors, continue to teach us the wrong things about what we need to do to stay fit, healthy and maintain a normal weight. I find this completely inexcusable today, as we now have so much good information available. There is an ever-growing body of evidence-based, obesity medicine that will enable us to get the results that we deserve. This information truly needs to get out to the public asap.
Approaching this formidable challenge with out-dated and unscientific methods is shameful. Now more than ever we need to utilize the tools and the wisdom we have at our disposal so we can reverse the obesity epidemic in America. Our lives and our quality of life depends on it!