This installment of my ongoing series – where I publish the conversations I have with people who ask me to write about their diet products – ends with one of the most ridiculous would-be-hilarious-if-it-wasn’t-horrible emails I have ever received.
Today’s conversation is with with the creator of “A deck of cards with one goal, to help you lose weight. ”
In his original e-mail he wrote:
My name is Mike, I’m launching [my weightloss product] on [fundraising site] next week, a truly unique (seriously!) way to lose weight without dieting or pills. It would be great for your audience to have another helpful article on the topic of weight loss (and casually mention the product). Of course, I could write it for you (if you like). I’m thinking something like:
-What if everything you knew about weight loss was wrong?
-Hey fatty, always hungry? Here’s why…
-How to eat more calories and weigh less
Let me know what you think!
p.s. I’d be happy to send you a freebie sample, just let me know your address and I’ll shoot one your way!
I checked out his fundraising website. It started with the usual call-a-body -size -an-epidemic obesipanic, then admitted that 90% of all diets fail. In the product description:
- It’s a great way to lose weight, anytime and anywhere.
- The durable 100% PVC plastic cards will ensure your cards will last as long as your weight loss does.
- It’s for any age group
- You won’t be starving yourself
- It’s a fun way to lose weight by yourself or with others
- Absolutely nothing extra is needed for you to lose weight. No meal plans, no pills, nothing.
- Shoot, they’re less than $20, when was the last time a weight loss program was less than $20!?
- NO hype, just an honest, easy and fun approach to weight loss
After I got control of my eye-roll reflex I replied:
I’m interested in publishing this, but since, as you also mentioned, 90% of diets fail, I’ll just need to see the evidence that your product has a better success rate.
Mike sent back:
Thanks for writing back, and your interest. I have 4 people undergoing an 8 week test. The 8 weeks will be completed tomorrow at midnight. Even though every participant lost weight, it’s impossible to compare this to the millions of people every year that try diets and fail. Would you like me to do a writ-up of the study that was done with the 4 participants?
Knowing, as I do, that almost everyone loses weight on almost every diet short term and almost everyone gains the weight back long term, I remained skeptical. I replied:
I apologize, I’m a bit confused. On your [fundraising page] it sounded to me that you are saying that your program will succeed where 90% of diets fail (the research showing that most people experience weight loss in the short term and gain it back between years 2-5) Am I misunderstanding your claim or is there another differentiator that I’m missing? Sorry for my confusion.
Mike sent back:
You are misunderstanding the claim, I’m not associating my product with diets at all
At this point I began to suspect that Mike subscribes to the MST (Magical Semantics Theory) The idea that if you call a diet something else (“fun way to lose weight”, “approach to weight loss”, “lifestyle change” etc.) then it will work better.
Gotcha, so then what differentiates this from a diet, and what makes it more likely to be successful?
Mike tries to help me understand:
On this page [that I will not be linking to] there is a video that will explain the cards a bit, but to answer your question, the intent of diets is to change your eating habits with the goal of losing weight. The intent of [my ridiculous weight loss product] is to change the behaviors that cause someone to make better weight loss decisions. So there are no calorie restricting diets. With [my ridiculous weight loss product] you get points for making good decisions that that contribute to weight loss, and you subtract points for making bad decisions. So the goal is to get more points this week than the prior week. If you consistently get more points week after week, you are changing those influential behaviors that cause weight gain.
I hope this answers your question.
Wow, that’s crystal clear in the way that is the exact opposite of crystal clear. Let’s try this a different way:
I understand, but I’m still coming back to my question about the evidence that this will actually lead to weight loss. How did you choose the behaviors to encourage that will lead to weight loss – is there some research on successful weight loss that you are basing this on that is different than what the diets and so-called lifestyle interventions that fail so often aren’t using? I’m trying to understand your angle.
And then there was this:
Well if you want evidence, I am concluding the small study which I told you about earlier. Where’s the evidence that Jesus turned water into wine? Where is the evidence that global warming exists? This is theory, & I never said in any of my writings that this is proof of weight loss. The premise is these cards teach you how to eat and behave better regarding weight loss decisions. The cards came from a lifetime of knowledge, consulting with a couple dietitian and nutritionist, and online research and reading scientific studies.
Mike, a self-described “health and fitness expert” describes his product:
“It’s a great way to lose weight, anytime and anywhere.”
“Absolutely nothing extra is needed for you to lose weight.”
“It’s a fun way to lose weight by yourself or with others”
“NO hype, just an honest, easy and fun approach to weight loss”
Then, when asked to provide evidence for the weight loss he is promising, he says “I never said in any of my writings that this is proof of weight loss” and besides I don’t need evidence because Jesus, Global Warming, and four of my friends.
That actually happened, and people (to whom he only spouted his MST-based marketing and who never got to hear about how his project is related to Jesus and Global Warming) funded his project. This is where we’re at in our discourse around weight and health. Actual researchers are being honest that intentional weight loss almost never works, but Mike with his GlobalWarmingJesus It’sNotADietIt’sADiet hypothesis of weight loss can convince people that they should give him money. And that’s why the “Diet Companies Say the Darndest Things” feature exists on this blog – because it’s time to start telling the truth – when it comes to weight loss cards, you might as well be playing roulette.
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