Freezing Fat People for Fun and Profit

You Forgot Your BullshitA company is joining the legion of diet companies perpetrated a fraud by suggesting that they can produce lasting weight loss.  In this incarnation, it’s shoes and a vest that make you cold. They claim that based on the research, being cold (almost, but not to, the point of shivering) will lead to weight loss. (Thanks to reader Elisabeth for letting me know about this.) How is this completely ridiculous?  Let me count the ways.

The “science” that they point to includes a study were 24 men sat in a room cooled to 61F for two hours, a study where 6 men remained inactive for three hours while wearing a cold suit,  a study where 12 men sat in a cold room for 2 hours a day for six weeks, a study of rats, and a Daily Mail article (none of which measured weight loss.)  Oh, and an anecdote about Michael Felps during the time he was training for the Beijing Olympics. Because clearly the most decorated Olympian of all time is a statistically significant, widely extrapolatable sample unto himself. (And if they want to play a round of “anecdata” I know plenty of fat people who live and work in the cold who are still fat.) 

So, based on the experiences of 43 people, one of whom is a 22-time Olympic Medalist who is still training for the Olympics, and none of whom lost any weight, we’re supposed to believe that this is an evidence-based weight loss “body hack” (They love to use the word “hack,” I guess “bullshit that doesn’t work” is just not as hip.)

And this is the state of “science” around weight loss – no matter how ridiculous the premise, no matter how weak the evidence, no matter how many embarrassingly lacking the scientific method may be, if someone thin says that they know how to make fat lose weight, we are all supposed to hop to and do whatever they say, and not ask any questions (because lord knows they don’t have answers.)

What’s sad is that there are real world applications for this technology, there are plenty of people who could use cooling clothing/shoes – those who work outdoors, athletes, people dealing with hot flashes, everybody who lives in Texas – but that’s not where the billions are.

The billions are in lying to people and telling them, even though there is not a bit of evidence that this will lead to long term weight loss, that they know how to manipulate people’s body sizes to move them out of an oppressed class, and give them better health. It’s snake oil, only colder. At least this isn’t likely to kill us, but it’s still unconscionable to prey on people who are the victims of so much oppression by lying and saying that you can change them to accommodate their oppressors.

Also, I just have to mention the sizing of this. It comes in men’s and women’s sizes, both start at XXS , the women’s go to 2XL, and the men’s to 3XL (though they claim that they can accommodate other sizes.)  If you need further proof that our society is super messed up when it comes to body image, look no further than the fact that they are selling a weight loss device in size extra-extra-small.  Not that it’s ok that they are selling it to fat people – it’s a crock of crap at any size. Unfortunately they can try to sell us whatever they want, but happily we don’t have to buy it.

By the way, big thanks to my Facebook friends for helping me decide on a title (it was between “Ice Ice Fatty” or “Fatties on Ice” or “Freezing Fat People for Fun and Profit”) In addition to helping me choose the title, they came up with some other suggestions and I didn’t want to deprive you of their comedic talents so here are some others that they came up with (feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.)

Fatties on Ice? That’s Not Nice! (a little play on the old Riunite ads)

You’re ass cold as ice

The Iced Fat Cometh

Fatty Chills

Freezing Reason


The cold always bothers me anyway…Let us goooooo

Do you want to build a snowfat?

Fatties on (Thin) Ice

Sometimes, when something is this ridiculous, I just have to laugh about it.

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33 thoughts on “Freezing Fat People for Fun and Profit

  1. In the 80s, my college professor talked about research that countered the then-popular idea that people would lose weight if the body had to generate heat all the time because they were cold. One if the research studies he cited then was on women wearing miniskirts in the cold – it promoted deposition of fat and formation of cellulite in uncovered areas, but not weight loss. I remember the “Life Extension” book couple walking around naked in the cold in their home for this reason. Our metabolisms are complex. Using more energy to stay warm does not cause weight loss. I’m guessing the added stress would make a person overall gain, but I’d have to do ACTUAL RESEARCH if I wanted to show l that.

  2. Is it sad that I want this SO BADLY? (Yeah, I live in Texas.) I’m glad you mentioned the other applications – I mean, I have been WAITING for someone to make some sort of cooling apparatus. Honestly, I really want a seat cooler. But also, my feet get insanely hot. Like, I can’t wear boots even in the winter because they heat up so much and make me miserable. If I could have cooling shoes… wow. Of course, their vest sounds like it may barely fit me or may be too small altogether.

    On the other hand, if I complain about how hot I am, despite living in Texas, someone is certainly going to assume it’s because of my fat. =/

    1. I swear like a horse, and it would be lovely to have a cooling vest to work out in! I always have to set up fans because the feeling of sheeting and dripping sweat bothers me—I also turn beet red when I get hot.

      Now, I have ALWAYS sweated heavily and turned beet red when I’m hot; it runs in the (“average” to slim) family and we are all used to people saying, “are you all right? You look like you’re having a heart attack!” which is medically inaccurate since people having heart attacks are usually pale, but anyway. I mention this because I find myself explaining that I have always been a little hyperhydrotic because genes, because I know people see me as a red-faced, sweating, perilously-out-of-shape obese woman and regard me as an object lesson.

      No, really. I used to sweat like this in my twenties when I would run five miles on the beach and finish up with wind sprints. I was also starving, but that’s another topic.

      1. LOL—obviously I meant “sweating like a horse” in that first sentence. Pigs don’t sweat and horses usually don’t swear, but I’ve certainly heard them grumble occasionally.

      2. I have the opposite problem. I sweat very very little and this is not as great as it sounds. It means my body does a very poor job of cooling itself (I also have problems with keeping warm enough, my body is terrible at regulating it’s temperature) and I’ve ended up with heat exhaustion on more than a few occasions. Something to keep me cool in hot weather would be really appreciated. I can’t stay indoors in air conditioning all the time.

    2. Of course it’s because of your fat. It’s ALL because of your fat.

      If you’re too cold, it’s because you have so much fat that your blood can’t get to all the places in your body (because our bodies don’t, you know, adjust by producing more blood and veins and stuff), so that’s why you’re cold.

      If you’re too hot, it’s because your carrying around all that “insulation,” (insulation which does not, by the way, insulate against the cold in the winter, just sayin’) and extra STUFF in the way of your blood vessels, which, if they could just reach the surface of your skin, would be able to cool you down, because blood evaporates or something.

      Yes, I have seriously heard both arguments. More than once.

      Also, I live in Texas (thanks, Ragen!), and I would LOVE one of these, but I won’t buy it from a company who sells it as a weight-loss gimmick. So, is anyone else making anything similar?

      1. You may want to google cooling vests for hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia (impaired or nonexistent sweat glands), which is another legit use for these. I’m not sure whether there are businesses specifically geared towards the ED population, but it might be worth looking into.

    3. Can I have your feet? You can have mine, they are -800 degrees, even in summer. I usually wear the world’s thickest socks, and never wear thongs. (I’m from the days when thongs were something you wore on your feet.)

  3. Um. There’s a recently released study in the news lately about how office buildings are too over-air-conditioned, and in addition to being a giant waste of energy, one of the side effects was that cold makes women deposit more fat into their cells. So one side of this “science” is wrong, and I’m guessing it’s the one that’s hoping to get in on a multi-billion dollar scam.

    1. That doesn’t surprise me. I also found out several years ago that office towers never shut off. They have a cooling and heating cycle that never ends. In houses when it reaches the temp. the thing turns off, it doesn’t turn on another thing to combat. I think we could great reduce office expenditures would be to ditch these types of heating/cooling, and turn off the dang lights at night!

      The excess cold creates more fat cells seems like a good idea from an evolutionary pov. It may explain why the Inuit are larger than the neighbours to the south.

  4. I would buy it anyway, despite the ick of supporting a snake oil company, because heat is a major seizure trigger for me. It’s really hard for me to get anything done outside the house, even inside if the air conditioner isn’t blasting. Why can’t they market it as a portable air conditioner instead? Like those warming packs that you can put inside gloves and boots in winter.

  5. My boyfriend read that to me on Wed and my face said it all. I mean sure I would love something that would keep me cool at night but this is stupid. really really stupid.

  6. Thanks to all your FB followers for those awesome titles. They made me laugh this morning!

    At first I thought this was the same as those terrible “Freeze the Fat Off” ads I see all over LA, which evoke images of having various parts of the body get frostbite and then watching those parts slowly fall off…and for all I know, that is what they actually do, because you can’t find anything out about the procedure on their website. They even show a bit from Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee where they drive by making fun of the ads…so even *they* think their product is a joke, at least on fat people.

    So apparently there are Many Ways to Freeze a Fatty (sung to the tune of 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover). My contribution to the title list! 🙂

  7. There are icepack vests, but I don’t know how high in size they go. For the folks who get too hot, I wonder if you could rig up something with pockets to slip small ice packs into.

  8. I’ve looked into the science behind this. Apparently continually allowing oneself to become colder than is currently generally acceptable, but not to the point of shivering, causes a measurable acceleration in metabolism in a not-insignificant number of people who’ve tried it. Note that I said acceleration in metabolism–not reduction in fat deposits. We all know that the connection isn’t nearly that simple. Anyway, is there a medical condition for which speeding up metabolism would be beneficial? I suppose that that would be another non-diet-gimmick market for these vests.

    On the other hand, it’s been accepted wisdom for quite a while that making little kids grow up in uncomfortably chilly environments tends to stunt their growth and depress their immune systems. So, yet another brand new awesome ooby-dooby weight loss gimmick that is only accessible to those with the money for these vests in the daytime and individually programmable room heat at night.

  9. So now I’m supposed to be wearing a cooling suit with my caffienated underpants, food-monitoring/policing bra, thick-soled calorie-burning sneakers, and pedometer ankle bracelet? When do I get a weight loss hat for an accessory?

  10. Thanks for the extra titles! I think “On Thin Ice” would have worked well, given the several connotations. The word “Fatties” is not really necessary.

  11. So, here’s a story about this kind of thing: My wife, who is a for-reals rocket scientist, was doing field work in the Arctic (as in *above* the Arctic circle) to test some space equipment (it’s a good analog for Mars). She did, in fact, lose weight because of the cold up there since, biologically, it does take a lot of work for your body to keep warm. BUT!!! A) She had to continuously eat high calorie foods because otherwise she’d freeze to death, and B) she was more comfortable as a big woman than the folks up there who were super skinny, and C) She was always fully wrapped in cold-weather gear. And while the work there was exciting (I mean, really, rocket science!), it’s not a place she’s wanting to go back to. In fact, when a colleague suggested going, she talked him around to going to another analog site…in Hawaii…;)

    1. Cool (not just the temperature). And yes, the Inuit have their traditional knowledge that you need to eat more, especially in fats to survive the Arctic. There was an experiment done on a group of army cadets in Winnipeg (or maybe it was in Saskatchewan) where they had a course made that mimicked what the Franklin expedition would have been in, and similar weighted boats that they pulled along the snow, and over little ridges. At first they were all gung hoe, and going all out, but after they got stuck on a teenyweeny hill, and took over 30 mins to get free, they slowed down (not by choice, since they were so excited, at first). After a couple days of living like the Expedition, they calculated how many calories it would have taken to actually continue to function at peak efficiency: 11,000 calories! But they were only eating around 4,000 cals. No wonder the health of the sailors declined so quickly. And back then they didn’t have proper winter clothes or gear, so they were using warmer climate materials, and failing.

      1. The biggest killer of European Arctic explorers was ignorance. When they started listening to the locals, whose traditional technology looks crude only if you are used to shiny stuff that goes bang and ding, they started making it home more often.

        Speaking of which, whenever I see somebody extolling the virtues of “paleo,” I think about the traditional foods of the cultures of the North. You cannot “hunt and gather at the supermarket.” It simply isn’t possible. Drawing on personal experience and observation, the Inupiaq, Inuit, etc., developed diets that relied on lactic acid fermentation to alter the vitamin composition of both plant and animal foods, along with consumption of approximately 90 percent of the fleshy parts of every animal they came across. Ever seen a reindeer eyeball for sale at the store? A seagull egg? When was the last time anybody you know ate a thymus gland?

        It’s all of a piece with trying to build a “fitness” regime on non-shivering thermogenesis. “Hay guyzs these other people in this other place look(ed) like this, and they also did this, so let’s extract this and refine it and trademark it and sell it and then we’ll be thinprettyacceptablehealthyyoung forever! Yes!!!”


  12. Hell, if they wanna go with anecdotal evidence, I gained around 30 pounds when I moved to a colder climate. Presumably, my body went “Oh! We’re having to burn a lot of extra energy staying warm- let’s make sure we have a good store of it!” I got a lot more cold-tolerant in the process, so mission accomplished, I guess.

  13. LOL!! Those alternate titles cracked me up. You and your FB friends are hilarious. Raven, you should really do a podcast. You have the great ability to confront information that makes me want to cry (freezing fat, wtf!?) by making me laugh. That’s the good medicine

  14. Fatsy the Snowman?

    I would totally get that for my husband and coworkers for the summer as they put in 8 hr days on 120°+ tarmac. It is so sad the first line of thought for use is for weight loss instead of the many MANY people who will fall ill to heat sickness/heat stroke during the summer. I know my husband has fallen ill with heat sickness 3× this summer alone (thank you early 100°+ heat wave in June!)

  15. Their tactic doesn’t even work. A while back my mum and I were both unemployed and having a very difficult time financially and we struggled to pay the bills. The gas and electric company came and forcibly installed meters so we’d have to pay for what we used and at the same time if we topped up £20 they would take £10 (we later got it reduced to £5 and in time we did this thing to wipe our debts at the time).

    Anyway we worked out that topping up the electric was more important due to lighting and we can cook stuff in the microwave so we were only doing minimal amounts on the gas for the few cooker based meals. For cost we decided to forgo the heating and just layer up in jumpers and blankets and this was during a very cold British winter where temperatures were going into the low minus in celsius, not temperatures you want to be without heating in.

    And I recall neither mum or myself losing any drastic amounts of weight. We probably lost a few pounds but that was more likely due to the smaller meals and trips to the food bank than sitting in the cold.

  16. They should market these vests to welders, road construction workers, and other laborers in hot environments. They’d probably make a whole lot more money that way, and offend nobody.

    1. I think so too. So much construction going on in Canada, but only during summer when the ground is not frozen.

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