Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Being sold to

It strikes me that people trying to do something about their weight/fat are a somewhat vulnerable group when it comes to being targeted by the rapacious ‘diet’ industry. It seems everywhere you look there is someone promising you an easy way to lose 40lbs of unwanted belly, or ‘eat this and you will be healthy for life’.

Let me just say one thing. If any of these things worked we would all be lean lithe and lissom and some fortunate inventor would be sitting there counting his (her?) billions. There would be only one thing to buy and we would all use it wouldn’t we?

But there is not just one miracle cure is there, whether it is a super abs twister or a super fat burning goji berry shake!

The fact is there really is no short cut. The fact is that most of us have eaten an exccess of calories for years. We decide we want to change in a moment but we also the results in a moment. There is a fundamental mismatch here.

I am of course open to argument but as far as I can tell there is no easy way to get lean. It is about changing behaviour. No longer eating without thinking what is going into the body and why, it is about moving more than perhaps you have done for years. It is about re-discovering where food sensibly fits within a balanced and happy lifestyle.

None of these things are made any easier by being bombarded by ‘marketeers’ (snake oil salesmen) purporting to have the easy cure to all your body shape issues.

So I have a few recommendations:

If the product is ONLY aimed at dieters run, run in the opposite direction. You do not see ‘diet’ cabbage or ‘diet’ Swedes. There really is no need for diet foods just good proportions of good foods. There is no prescription of only a few foods to eat, food CAN be enjoyed so work out how much of the food you enjoy you can eat.

There are no pills or potions that will do the job for you. If there were the NHS would be giving them out for free. Obesity is costing us millions now and will cost us billions in the future.

Any exercise contraption that promises to make you lean lithe and lissom from one body movement should be avoided like the plague. THEY do not work. Those buff and beautiful models they have on them are just that models, they are being paid to look that good, and they look that good because they do the hard work of looking after their nutrition and exercise in the kitchen and the gym.

Of course there are people who will profit from helping us along the way, those who provide gym facilities, for example. No problem with that they are offering their facilities to everyone not selling their gym as a miracle cure. People who have ‘been there and done that will often write books about their experience’. As long as they are not selling snake oil I see no problem with them making a living by sharing their knowledge.

You no doubt can think of other examples. I am by nature a free market person but I also think it is incumbent on the consumer to educate themselves to avoid being taken in by these rouges.

That is the purpose of writing this blog piece. The sooner we ALL wise up and realise that there is no ‘quick fit – get ripped in 4 weeks’ answer the better!


  1. I hear you Will, ohyes!

    There was a nice piece in the Evening Standard about the "How Not To Get Fat" book, which really was refreshing to see; actual promotion in the media of "there are no miracles" and "faddy diets don't work". Small hope yet, but it's a start.