Besides the obvious question for the diet industry – How can you live with yourselves making 60 billion dollars a year selling a product that hardly ever works? – I have some other questions for the diets I’m seeing advertised. Of course, health is complicated, multi-dimensional, not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, completely within our control or guaranteed under any circumstances. And I would never tell anyone else what to eat or what path to health they should choose – these are just my questions base on the health and weight loss claims that the diet industry is so fond of making.
NutriSystem and Jenny Craig: With all of this talk about how the healthiest thing is to eat farm to table/slow food/food as close to whole as possible, why are you suggesting to fat people that we should eat meals that are highly processed, frozen, and packaged in plastic bags to be microwaved back to warmth?
Medifast, your plan of five shakes a day and one lean protein and vegetable meal not only replaces almost all food with reconstituted soy protein, but it puts people at a caloric level that is less than what has been used to study starvation, and is so low fat that women may stop menstruating and lose their hair. Your “health coaches” become “health coaches” by buying into your multi-level marketing program to resell the product (I personally know someone who was an unemployed social psychologist one day and a health coach the next.) Explain again how this is a good idea?
Slimfast: You want us to believe that replacing two-thirds of our food with a drink that has a laxative effect will bring greater health. Are you serious?
The Cabbage Soup Diet: Just one of your 7 days says “Eat as many as eight bananas and drink as many glasses of skim milk as you would like on this day, along with your soup.” What the fuck?
Alli Diet Pills: Your side effects include uncontrolled anal seepage, spontaneous bowel movements, and life-threatening liver damage and your information suggests that people should wear dark pants, all for 4 pounds more weight lost A YEAR than those who didn’t take Alli (and it sounds like a fair amount of that weight leaks out their asses.) What the actual fuck?
Weight Watchers: When your study showed that your average participant lost around 10 pounds in six months and kept off half of that for two years, your chief scientist – Karen Miller-Kovach – said: “It’s nice to see this validation of what we’ve been doing.” If you are so comfortable with those numbers, why doesn’t your advertising say “Join Weight Watchers and maybe lose 5 pounds in two years” with before and after pictures of people who have lost 5 pounds?
Maybe if I asked representatives from these diets they would have answers – but then I have to ask if it matters what those answers are, when the diets don’t have any evidence that they lead to significant long-term weight loss or health benefits?
So my last question is “Why in the world would I give you my money?”
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9 thoughts on “Questions for Diet Companies”
Hear, hear Ragen – here in the UK, many doctors’ surgeries offer referrals to either Slimming World or Weight Watchers, and people who are referred get half price membership and classes – presumably this is supposed to inspire them to get off their fat backsides and put in the effort to lose weight! My opinion is – if you decide that you do want to lose weight, then why should you have to pay for the “privilege”? I’ve done Rosemary Conley and Slimming World in my time (never again to either of them) and if you mention to anyone that you’re doing this, you get a round of applause and “good for you” and other such congratulations. This is because you are perceived to be “doing something about it” “tackling your problem”. I did lose weight with both organisations, around about 2.5 stones with each, but I did put it back on again, both times, because despite the fact that they bang on about “lifestyle changes” what they really mean is that you should starve yourself for the rest of your life, and absolutely no one who is intent on enjoying the one life we’ve all been given is going to be able to do that. My general health has not changed, whether I’m two stones lighter or not. To my horror, my own employer (a local authority) will now refer staff members to Slimming World for a reduced membership fee. This is all part of the most patronising attempt to “improve” the health and welfare of its employees – we are constantly bombarded with “health tips” and “activity ideas” and “healthy eating plans”. I ignore it.
Another good question: If it’s really as easy as ‘calories in vs calories out’ as so many of these groups/products claim… why couldn’t I get the same results by just cutting back on portions of the foods I cook at home and getting in a little more exercise per week?
IOW, what are you selling me that I can’t do/get on my own?
Oh, that’s right! Cardboard food substitutes, injections of pregnant women’s pee, massive doses of laxatives and/or amphetamines, unwarranted anxiety about entire food groups, public shame, and personal blame for systemic failures at the expense of my bank account.
Hell of a deal… for the diet companies!
What saddens me is that so many fat people, and what seems like every not fat person in the country, swallows every single shred of bullshit the $60 billion a year weight loss industry tells them without ever thinking critically about it. Their message is so pervasive it’s seen as “normal”, like established facts that we need air to breathe.
Keep telling the truth, Ragen. Until I found your blog, I never even realized there was another option: stepping off the weight loss merry go round. The vast majority of the population are completely unaware that this is a perfectly valid decision to make.
My life has improved in so many ways since deciding to focus on health rather than weight. Happiness, with myself and the world is right at the top of the list. Thank you again for all that you do.
In the last few days I’ve seen a commercial on TV about preventing diet messages from reaching “our girls”, and diet messages are a form of Dietainment. At the end of the commercial, after you’ve been guessing what it’s about and praising them for taking notice, it’s a Multi-Grain Cheerios ad who’s footing the bill.
So a world w/o dieting through a food a that’s been touted as a diet food. Nice.
The capacity for the human mind to ignore reality both fascinates and horrifies me.
So true! These “diets” are not only unhealthy, but downright dangerous. This post also highlights that diet companies only want to sell us their chemicals. Heaven forbid they recommend having a balanced diet of meals consisting of nutritional foods and not try to trick people into thinking their chemicals are “healthy”!
This essay should go viral on Facebook! thanks for your postings!
I like to ask diet company reps if they have any figures following people beyond the 2- to 5-year mark to document their “success.” Ninety-nine percent of them never answer me, and the ones that do usually say something like, “I’m sure we do!” but then never get back to me. I’ve decided anyone selling dieting or weight loss is a predator and a parasite preying on misinformation, self-hate and fear.
I can barely describe how much I want to see before & after pics, along with tearful testimonials about how much life has changed since losing FIVE pounds with Weight Watchers.