Opinion: Counterbalancing the charlatans of the weight loss industry
Published Sunday, July 18, 2021 2:27PM EDT Last Updated Sunday, July 18, 2021 2:28PM EDT
Registered dietician Karlene Karst talks about the latest weight-loss pills and products. Do they really lighten anything but your wallet?
MONTREAL -- In Quebec, one-in-four people reported being directly solicited to buy weight-loss products, services, and aids in the past year.
The most popular method of solicitation was through social media.
Since the beginning of the pandemic social media platforms have been taken over by representatives of the weight-loss industry who advertise weight-loss products, dazzling the population with false promises.
The latter has taken advantage of a growing concern regarding bodyweight in our society.
The range of so-called miracle weight-loss solutions are impressive; fat burners, meal replacements, appetite suppressant pills and many others.
There is something for everyone and the assurances of quick and effortless weight loss can be very appealing.
In that sense, Pinterest has made a bold move; as of July 1, 2021 "ads containing text or images related to weight loss" as well as any content about weight loss and weight-loss products are now banned from the platform.
The same applies to any publication "that idealizes or denigrates certain morphologies" or that refers "to the body mass index (BMI) or similar indexes".
While waiting for others to follow their lead and implement similar policies, beware of the myths that the weight-loss industry knowingly perpetuates.
THERE IS NO MAGIC BULLET TO LOSE WEIGHT
According to science, slimming body products are ineffective for weight loss.
Nevertheless, some companies rely on studies to convince people of the effectiveness of their so-called miracle recipe.
Don’t fall into the trap; these are often studies financed by the companies themselves or extrapolated results from rather inconclusive research.
"NATURAL" DOES NOT MEAN "SAFE AND HEALTHY"
Natural health products are not without risk, but the weight-loss industry takes advantage of the myth that they are innocuous.
In Quebec, one in five people considers natural weight-loss products to be harmless.
However, like other natural health products, slimming products can be harmful to one’s health in relation to their medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients, and their drug interactions.
Additionally, products that are approved by Health Canada are not necessarily safe.
The report from the Auditor General of Canada released last April specified that Health Canada’s oversight does not guarantee the safety and efficacy of approved products due to existing gaps regarding current regulations.
Therefore, even if they have a natural product number, the general population should avoid placing blind trust in natural health products.
WEIGHT-LOSS INDUSTRY'S REAPPROPRIATION OF HEALTH DISCOURSE
Another tactic of the industry is to attempt to convince people that weight-loss products are needed for a healthy lifestyle.
Rather than focusing on weight loss, choose lifestyle habits that are conducive to your well-being and that will benefit your physical and mental health.
Laurence Sauvé-Lévesque, inf., M.Sc. - Project leader, Méfiez-vous des apparences trompeuses! campaign Association pour la santé publique du Québec