Worst diet promotions of 2008 snag 20th Annual Slim Chance Awards- Each year the Healthy Weight Network evaluates all the fad diets and programs and selects the worst of the worst. Check out this years list.
Worst Diet Promotions Of 2008 Snag
20th Annual Slim Chance Awards
Healthy Weight Network released its 20th annual Slim Chance Awards last week, highlighting both the hidden dangers of diets and supplements that often contain unknown ingredients and sometimes potent drugs, and the merely ridiculous.
To call 2008 a typical year in the weight loss field would be too easy. This year’s awards go to an infamous huckster of diet infomercials, known for his outrageous disregard of injunctions against him; $139 body-shaping jeans impregnated with substances that supposedly reduce cellulite; a pill that’s “proven” to help your belly fat vanish; and a dangerous starvation diet launched recklessly on the Internet with promises of safe, fast and permanent weight loss.
All in all, a typical year that synthesizes all that is deceptive and exploitive in this field. So, here they are, the 20th annual Slim Chance Awards:
MOST OUTRAGEOUS CLAIM: Kevin Trudeau infomercials. It’s rare that regulatory agencies look at books, given our free speech laws, but the infomercials for Kevin Trudeau’s weight loss book and his repeated violations were just too much for the Federal Trade Commission, and this past August he was fined over $5 million and banned from infomercials for three years. In “willful efforts” to deceive, Trudeau told listeners they could easily follow the diet protocol at home, even though his book calls for human growth hormone injections and colonics that must be done by a licensed practitioner. The tortured case began in 1998 when FTC charged Trudeau with false and misleading diet infomercials. In 2003 he was charged with false claims; in 2004 he was fined $2 million and banned from infomercials. Again in 2007 a contempt action said he misled thousands with false claims for his weight loss book “in flagrant violation” of court orders.
WORST GIMMICK: Skineez jeans ($139). A new item in the fight against cellulite, Skineez jeans are impregnated with a so-called “medication” of retinol and chitosan, a shellfish product once claimed to cut fat absorption in the stomach (see 1999 Slim Chance Awards). Friction between the jeans and skin supposedly triggers release of the substance that is said to work on fat when absorbed through the skin. Reportedly a big hit in Europe, the “smart fabric” is also used in lingerie. Ironically, the creators of Skineez, Clothes for a Cause, profess to raise funds for breast cancer and “a wide range of other socially conscious charities.” So while the company hoodwinks women into buying an expensive pair of jeans, it promises they can “do good with every purchase … As our sales grow, so will our ability to help others.” FTC, however, is clear about such gimmicks, stating that products worn or rubbed on the skin do not cause weight loss or fat loss.
WORST CLAIM: AbGONE. Throughout 2008 full page ads assaulted the eye in daily newspapers across the country touting AbGONE as “proven to promote pot belly loss.” Claims are that AbGONE increases “fat metabolism” and calorie burn, promotes appetite suppression and inhibits future abdominal fat deposits. These are drug claims that, if true, would alter the body’s regulation. But unlike drugs, the pills are sold as food supplements, thus not requiring FDA approval. The bold ads feature the obligatory before and after shots of models, cut-away sketches of the abdomen with and without belly fat, and a white-coated researcher with chart purportedly confirming success of 5 times reduction in fat mass, 4 times lower BMI, 4 times greater weight loss than placebo. No added diet and exercise needed – well, except, you may want to heed the fine print disclaimer at the bottom that reminds us “diet and exercise are essential.”
WORST PRODUCT: Kimkins diet. It must have seemed an easy way to get rich quick. Founder Heidi “Kimmer” Diaz set up a website and charged members a fee to access the Kimkins diet, boasting they could lose up to 5 percent of their body weight in 10 days. “Better than gastric bypass,” there was “no faster diet,” and in fact she herself had lost 198# in 11 months. Stunning “after” photos were displayed. In June 2007 Women’s World ran it as a cover story, and that month alone PayPal records show the Kimkins site took in over $1.2 million. Then users began complaining of chest pains, hair loss, heart palpitations, irritability and menstrual irregularities. This was not surprising since Kimkins is essentially a starvation diet, down to 500 calories per day and deficient in many nutrients (appallingly, laxatives are advised to replace missing fiber). In a lawsuit, 11 former members are uncovering a vast record of Diez’s alleged fraud. They found that the stunning “after” photos, including one of Kimmer herself, had been lifted from a Russian mail order bride site. According to a deposition reported by Los Angeles TV station KTLA, Diaz admitted using fake pictures, fake stories and fake IDs, and a judge has allowed the litigants to freeze some of her assets.
“Today’s economic downturn can remind us how foolish it is to waste money on unsafe, ineffective and energy-draining weight loss efforts,” said Francie M. Berg, a licensed nutritionist and adjunct professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, whose organization Healthy Weight Network started the Slim Chance Awards 20 years ago. The National Council Against Health Fraud, for which she is coordinator of the task force for Weight Loss Abuse, cosponsors the awards.
They’re part of the lead-up to “Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day” during Healthy Weight Week, which falls from January 18 to 24 in 2009.
With the New Year upon us, resolutions freshly on our minds, Berg is advising people to skip dieting and move ahead with healthy habits that last a lifetime.
For more information on Healthy Weight Week see www.healthyweight.net/hww.htm