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The Disadvantages of “Before” and “After”

Por Carola Sixto, Editor, DrTango, Inc. -
The Disadvantages of “Before” and “After”

A “not-so-positive” advertising

How many times do we watch with suspicion the “before and after” ads with images of radiant men and women who declare they’ve lost weight using a specific product, and then show an image of how they looked before, which looks nothing like the person we’re looking at right now?

Promises That Are Hard to Keep
The “before and after” resource is not new. For decades, hundreds of brands have used this advertising model to communicate their benefits; especially telemarketing products.

Body contouring creams, diet pills, gymnastics equipment, and waist belts are daily displayed on our TV screens, announcing the benefits of these products through comparative images of how a person looks before and after buying them. 

However, according a study called “Eating Disorders and Weight: Studies of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Obesity,” conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, this type of advertising may reinforce negative feelings towards obesity and prolong damaging stereotypes.

“As they show drastic weight loss, before and after images ignore the reality of dieting and encourage the idea of easy weight loss,” concluded Andrew B. Beier, PhD, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

A group of 59 people participated in the study: some of the participants were shown a “before and after” ad about an obese woman who lost weight, while two other groups only saw the “before” or the “after” part of the ad.

Among the reactions observed by the researchers, many participants expressed a strong “anti-obesity” sense. There was also a certain scorn towards “thin” people who were known to be obese before. “Spectators usually see positive changes as something good. When people find that a toad becomes a prince, they usually tend to think more about the toad than the prince,” explained Geir. He added: “We study the stigmas to understand their origins, in order to eradicate them. Obesity is a serious health problem, and many people agree it’s wrong to be prejudicing against those who suffer this condition. One thing that should be obvious is that shaming someone is not the same as helping.”

Now that you know about this research, you have every right to zap next time you’re watching TV and one of these ads shows up. In addition to controlling what you watch, you can control what you buy.



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