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Beware of Fitness Fraud

You Can't Lose Weight in Just Minutes a Day


Updated December 07, 2003

When was the last time you couldn't sleep? Did you get up, turn on the television and get lured into the seductive world of infomercials? Infomercials promise everything from amazingly clean clothes to amazingly thin thighs in just minutes a day. While that sounds really good at 3:00 a.m., don't let your fuzzy, sleep-deprived brain trick you into buying into these crazy claims.

Paying Attention To The Warning Signs

  • "Lose weight in just minutes a day!"

That actually translates to: "If you believe this, you're really stupid." Yes, there are some things you can do in just minutes a day and, unfortunately, losing weight isn't one of them. If an infomercial is making this promise, or any other extravagant claim such as weight loss with little or no effort, or guaranteed washboard abs, that's a sign they're totally full of crap. Yes, some of these products do work. SOME of the ab gadgets sold on infomercials really do target your abs, but are you aware that abdominal exercises don't actually reduce the fat over your tummy? These people are trying to convince you that working your abs will result in washboard status, and that just isn't true. Losing weight requires work. Period.

  • Look Who's Talking.

Are the experts touting this product really experts? What are their credentials? If a doctor appears on the screen to say, "I've used this [insert stupid fitness gadget here] with many of my patients and have seen incredible results," ask yourself this: Is this person really a doctor? Is this someone you would really trust? Would you believe this 'doctor' over your own?

Of course, it gets confusing when the expert is someone you recognize. For example, Tamilee Webb now has an infomercial for her Ab Away Pro. I've heard of Tamilee Webb; I even have a few of her workout videos. So when I first saw her infomercial, I was prepared to give her a chance. Then, she promised me I would have a firm, flat stomach in just minutes a day (yeah...now pull the other leg). This infomercial made wild promises that most fitness professionals would recognize as the big fat lies they are. But what about you? Do you know anything about exercise physiology and biomechanics? About eccentric and concentric movements? Don't be lured by big, scary exercise words and don't be fooled into believing crazy, too-good-to-be-true promises just because the expert is someone you recognize.

  • Read the Disclaimers.

If you've ever seen a car commercial, you've probably seen a flash of microscopic writing on the bottom of the screen. Who knows what it really says; maybe "zero percent financing only applies during a lunar eclipse, on the third Thursday of the eighth month of a leap year." Look for these types of disclaimers during infomercials, particularly during the testimonials. You might see the disclaimer, "Results may vary," or "Results not typical." Translation: "W e paid this person to say they lost weight with our product." Okay, to be fair, maybe some of these people are real and have seen results, but, like the disclaimer says, those results probably aren't typical.

  • Are the Promises Based on Scientific Research?

Sure, some infomercials say things like "Clinical research has proven..." or, "In an independent study by doctors..." to show you how solid their products is. If they don't tell you where this study can be found, call them up and ask them where the study was published. If it's not in the Journal of the American Medical Association (or some other reputable journal), skip it. Most aren't going to be published studies anyway. If they were, wouldn't your doctor be recommending some of these products?

In the end, you have to use your common sense to decide whether these products will really help you reach your goals. Always remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

More Info

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