By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
“Does it matter why it works, as long as it works?” she shrugged.
I have the same question. As long as it‘s not speed -- then who cares why it works? Lots of Americans have the bad habit of eating their worst, most unnecessary calories after dinner. It’s such a problem it‘s been given its own name -- Night Eating Syndrome. To break this habit, people need to start a new habit, like fasting for three hours before bed. If Evening Weight Loss helps people stick to the new habit, why is that bad, and why shouldn’t it cost money? Every diet is both a product and a behavior plan, and part of what you‘re paying for is the plan, even if the plan part is something you could separate out and do on your own, for free. The fact is, most people won’t do the free part on their own.
Of course the DJs were lucky enough to get the products free, and get paid to do the ads, but a month of Evening Weight Loss is only $48 to $60, depending on what discount they give you. If you resist the sales pitch to buy the total three-month package at $158.96 plus shipping, Body Solutions can be a relatively inexpensive way to train yourself out of some bad eating habits.
But Body Solutions may not work for you, as Body Solutions would be the first to tell you. Its disclaimer is that not every diet works for every person, and everyone loses weight differently. Both of those statements are true.
“I have a patient who says she can only eat carbs in the morning and protein in the afternoon, and another who eats absolutely the opposite, and both swear the way they‘re eating is causing them to lose weight,” said Dr. Lisa Sanders, who is on the faculty at Yale Medical School and is developing a curriculum to teach doctors about weight loss and nutrition.
Contradictory advice based on personal success stories is the way of the world when it comes to losing weight. For every person who’s dropped a few pounds, there‘s a friend trying to lose weight based on whatever scheme that person recommends. What else are they supposed to do? It’s not as though most doctors are any help.
“If you ask a doctor, ‘How do I lose weight?,’ he does not know the answer,” said Sanders. “When a doctor says, ‘Eat less and exercise more,’ that‘s all they know.”
The dietary-supplement industry has eagerly filled the void left by the medical community’s neglect. Over the last 10 years, as the country has fattened up, dietary supplements like Body Solutions have become a $4.6 billion industry. Ten years ago, the biggest category of diet products was meal replacements, like Slim Fast. Now it‘s supplements. And the more money there is to be made, the more aggressive the advertising gets.
Richard Cleland, the Federal Trade Commission’s legal expert on deceptive advertising in the diet industry, started laughing when he told me that he brought his first case in 1985.
“Why are you laughing?” I asked.
“You‘d think that if you’d spent that much of your professional career fighting something, you‘d have solved it by now, instead of watching it get worse,” he said.
After a monthslong, 12-state investigation, the FTC last month, along with state attorneys general in Texas and Illinois, filed suit in federal District Court in Texas against Mark Nutritionals, Harry Siskind and Mark Nutritionals’ co-founder, Edward D‘Alessandro. The FTC is suing to get consumers’ money back, and it‘s suing to ban both the corporation and the individuals from making false and deceptive claims, now or in the future, about not only Evening Weight Loss Formula but also any other food, drug, supplement or product having to do with weight loss or health. The company has denied any wrongdoing.
Cleland said the number of deceptive weight-loss ads has exploded in the last decade. Since 1990, the FTC has filed 93 cases against weight-loss products making unsupportable claims. That’s as many cases as it filed in the previous seven decades combined, said Cleland.
“It‘s a supply-and-demand problem, not totally different than the problem with drugs,” he said. “There is high demand for magic-bullet-type products that don’t require consumers to make any lifestyle changes, and it‘s relatively easy for companies to get into the marketplace and sell products without much government oversight.”
That oversight should come from the Food and Drug Administration, but the FDA has not reviewed diet supplements since 1994, when Congress passed a law, largely at the behest of the vitamin industry, to exempt food supplements -- including diet supplements -- from FDA rules. All the FDA can do is go after the very worst cases, when people’s health is at risk.
But it‘s not just safety testing we’re missing without FDA scrutiny. FDA approval means a product has been shown to be effective in the majority of cases. Without FDA tests for diet supplements, consumers have no idea what the odds are that a product will work. Because there‘s still so much we don’t know about how and why different people lose weight, there is a remote chance that Body Solutions -- or some other product out there -- actually works, somehow. But Body Solutions‘ disclaimer -- that not every diet works for every person -- doesn’t give the whole picture, because there‘s no way to know whether it works for one out of three people or one out of 30,000.