Every year, Francie M. Berg, MS, founder of the Healthy Weight Network and one of my heroes, approaches those of us who work in this field and asks us for suggestions about the most outrageous, egregious, and false weight loss claims we’ve seen that year. Unfortunately, there is never a shortage!
The “24th Annual Slim Chance Awards” honors (so to speak), have just been announced and Dr. Oz wins the “Worst Claim Award”. And the Kardashians, who serve as spokespersons for a now infamous line of products that claim to “detoxify and clean” the body and “burn” calories”, got “Worst Product” (and also, apparently, named in a big fat lawsuit”).
Here’s all the scoop, as just released by the Healthy Weight Network!
The promotion of a dubious “miracle” diet aid by Dr. Oz and the risky concoctions endorsed by television personality Kim Kardashian for weight loss were recognized today among the worst diets and diet promotions of 2012 as the Healthy Weight Network released its list of “winners” in four categories for the 24thAnnual Slim Chance Awards.
“Celebrity endorsements of discredited and unproven weight loss schemes were prominent contributors to the growing U.S. weight loss market, which was projected to rake in $65 billion in 2012,” said William M. London, a professor of public health at California State University, Los Angeles and co-author of the college textbook Consumer Health: A Guide to Intelligent Decisions.
“As in previous years, we noted numerous ineffective and unsafe products and gimmicks repackaged as phony breakthroughs,” said Francie M. Berg, a licensed nutritionist and adjunct professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, who has chaired the review of Slim Chance nominees since 1989. “Quick-fix quackery continues to distract weight-conscious consumers from a sound focus on healthy lifestyles.”
WORST CLAIM: Dr Oz
In the category of Worst Claim, the Slim Chance Award goes to Dr. Mehmet Oz who
touted raspberry ketone on The Dr. Oz Show as “the number one miracle in a bottle to burn your fat.” Dr. Oz claimed the product regulates the hormone adiponectin so fat in cells is “broken up” more effectively to enable “fat burning.” He declared that the product will help the teach the body that it’s thin. But the only relevant research cited by The Dr. Oz Show was conducted on lab rats and mammalian cell cultures rather than clinical research on people. By the end of the show’s program segment on raspberry ketone, Dr. Oz shifted into disclaimer mode arguing for the need for good diet and exercise. He then contradicted his opening miracle mongering by suggesting raspberry ketone will only “get you over the hump” and “is not a miracle pill.” His disclaimers have not stopped numerous Internet marketers from using his name and image to promote sales of raspberry ketone products for weight loss.
WORST PRODUCT: QuickTrim
QuickTrim formulas include various chemical cocktails offered in caplets, drinks, drink mixes, and even skin gel—deceptively claimed to “detoxify and clean” the body and “burn” calories. Potentially hazardous ingredients in featured QuickTrim products include stimulant laxatives and unspecified amounts of caffeine. A $5 million class action lawsuit against Windmill Health Products; QuickTrim; Amazon.com; Walmart and others has alleged 28 different misrepresentations made for QuickTrim products. Co-defendants include Kim Kardashian along with her sisters Khloe and Kourtney, who have offered testimonials for QuickTrim and appeared in promotional materials for QuickTrim.
WORST GIMMICK: Ab Circle Pro
Ab Circle Pro earned the award for Worst Gimmick with ads falsely claiming that three minutes working out with the device—a fiberglass disk with stationary handlebars and two knee rests that roll on the edge of the disk, allowing consumers to kneel and rotate side-to-side—is equivalent to 100 sit-ups and can “melt inches and pounds” causing the exerciser to lose ten pounds in two weeks. In August, marketers of Ab Circle Pro, agreed to settlements with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for consumer refunds of between $15 million and $25 million. Defendants are to refrain from making false or unsupported claims in the future. They include Fitness Brands, Fitness Brands International, and the two individuals who control them, Michael Casey and David Brodess; Direct Holdings Americas, and Direct Entertainment Media Group; infomercial producer Tara Borakos, Tara Productions and New U; and Jennifer Nicole Lee and her two companies, JNL, and JNL Worldwide.
MOST OUTRAGEOUS: Fake news acai berry scammers
Dishonored in the Slim Chance category of Most Outrageous are acai berry and “colon cleanser” advertising scammers who falsely claimed that products such as Acai Pure, Acai Max, Pure Berry Max, Slimberry, Acai Ultraberry Slim, and Acai Advanced Cleanse would cause rapid and substantial weight loss. Various advertisers ran afoul of FTC leading to multi-million dollar settlements that barred the advertisers from various deceptive practices. Outrageous advertising included:
• Fake news websites using names and logos of major broacast and cable networks offering deceptive reports with titles such as “Acai Berry Diet Exposed: Miracle Diet or Scam?” and “1 Trick of a Tiny Belly: Reporter Loses her ‘Belly’ using 1 Easy Tip.”
• Supposedly free trial offers for acai berry products that deceptively enroll people into long-term contracts with monthly credit card billings for products consumers didn’t request.
Acai berry product marketers who settled FTC charges in 2012 include: Coleadium affiliate network and its owner, Jason Akatiff; Clickbooth affiliate network (owned by John Daniel Lamp); Intermark Communications doing business as Copeac; Coulomb Media and Cody Low (also known as Joe Brooks); Circa Direct and Andrew Davidson; Ricardo Jose Lampra; Zachary S. Graham, Ambervine Marketing and Encastle; Tanner Garrett Vaughn; Thou Lee; Charles Dunlevy; DLXM and Michael Volozin.
The Slim Chance awards are sponsored by Healthy Weight Network. They are a lead-up to “Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day” during Healthy Weight Week, the third week in January.
Thank you, Francie, for your tireless work on behalf of all of us who have been so vulnerable to these and similar diet products and claims in years past! Your ongoing work is much appreciated…and still so needed!
Want to learn more about what to do instead of dieting…how to make 2012 your last year ever to fall for such diet schemes? Join me for a FREE one hour seminar about a healthy alternative; how to reduce emotional and binge eating, “5 Essential Steps to Freedom from Emotional Eating”. Click here for the next dates.
Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in empowering people who are working on emotional and binge eating recovery. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, firstname.lastname@example.org