Apr 15, 2019 / by Jon Bellis / No Comments

I was recently alerted to the noise going on in the popular press around the use and promotion of dietary supplements/weight loss products by celebrities. It’s not something I would usually comment on, but after a bit of research I realised there’s an important take home message. I’ll get to that but first, some background.

For examples of the noise around this topic, take a look at these articles in the popular press:

Wow, there’s a fair bit of animosity here, I thought, these weight loss products must be really harmful.

I had a look at the offending products from The Flat Tummy company that have been promoted by the Kardashians and … well I was quite impressed if I’m honest. All natural, vegan ingredients. The shakes contain an impressive array of goodness and they have even included natural or synthesised versions of nutrients that generally come in heftier doses from animals, such as vitamin B12 and iron. It’s essentially a protein shake – if it helps you to fill a gap between meals and keeps you full once a day then it’s probably beneficial to weight loss. But just to be clear, the weight isn’t going to fall off you – it’s just that this might be a convenient way feel full without putting away too many calories.

The tea, again, is all natural and includes things you’d expect if you were looking to get a flat tummy such as a natural laxative (senna), diuretic (dandelion) and anti-flatulant (caraway). Ok they might cause you to lose some fluid but it’s not a dangerous product.

It’s all a bit of a brouhaha I thought. The criticism seems to be around the diet industry preying on people who have an unhealthy obsession with body image. Ok, fair enough point, I thought, but perhaps worthy of a wrist slap rather than vehement criticism.

A picture of diet pills

But then I followed some more links. Take this one here for example. Deaths! Ok, so there’s more to it. I had a closer look and discovered more stories about deaths and an array of chemicals used, or formerly used in weight loss products. I chose this article here to share with you because it is particularly insightful.

There are two noteworthy points to make about this article.

First, it gives more examples of deaths from taking diet pills and more examples of the dangerous and harmful side effects of some of these weight loss products. Clearly the use of dangerous products is widespread and the article gives you some idea of how many people out there are using or have tried these products. If you read the full article, you’ll see some of the shocking side effects that people are putting up with. Ah, so the lashing that the Kardashians received makes a bit more sense. Although they are promoting a relatively harmless product, healthy even, there is undoubtedly an implicit association with diet products and quick fix solutions. Without the appropriate due diligence required to research particular products, it would be easy to assume all diet products are similar and safe. Perhaps you’d go for something cheaper and more risky if you couldn’t afford the celeb’s choice.

Second, it gives you some idea of just what lengths people will go to for their desired body image. Losing weight or being a certain body shape is more important to some people than anything, even their health! These people all have something in common. They are looking for a quick fix. They are looking for a miracle product that will just make the fat fall off. If you’re not convinced that this is a big market, take a look at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tainted weight loss products list. These are products that contain banned or prescription-only substances. It’s the length of the list that is so astonishing. These are just the tainted products. Imagine how many products there are that are not tainted (Flat Tummy is one example – you won’t find it on the tainted list).

The point here is that the market for quick fix weight loss products is huge! That’s a lot of people hoping for a quick fix and effortless, rapid weight loss. The real frustration is that the quick fix miracle solution is a myth! Weight doesn’t go on quickly and it certainly isn’t going to come off quickly. Which brings me to the take home message.

If you want to lose weight and keep it off there really is no substitute for this formula:

  • Set your expectations: be patient – it’s going to take a while. Plan for 1lb per week.
  • Commitment – find your driving motivation and use it to help you stick to the plan for good. Be consistent and persistent.
  • Move more – exercise and be prepared to get fit and work hard. Be more active in general.
  • Eat fewer calories – lean protein, fibre, liquid – choose unprocessed over processed to keep you full, help you eat fewer calories and keep you healthy.
  • Make permanent change – accept that this is your new lifestyle, learn to love it and stick to it even after you hit your target weight.

Many people don’t want this. It’s too much, too disruptive, too difficult. You can imagine why the quick fix market is so huge. But please be assured it is the only way to lose weight in a healthy way and keep it off. It’s not rocket science, but it does require some effort. Set your expectations, make the commitment and get started: that’s the most important step you can take.

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