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The Weight-Loss Industry

Por Eleazar Lara-Pantin, MD, MSc.* -

The growth of the commercial weight-loss industry is a noticeable reaction to all of the public attention given to the problem of serious overweight and obesity in the United States and the world.

A significant amount of advertising includes commercials presenting false "magic" or miraculous solutions to being overweight or obese. In most cases, these “solutions” actually present their own health risks. Those risks can be equally, or even more, dangerous than just being overweight or obese.

Most people know that being overweight or obese seriously increases the risk of developing several chronic illnesses. But many people still do not recognize or acknowledge the harm that can be caused by following unhealthy diets and/or taking weight-loss pills.

To reduce calorie content, traditional/"popular" diets often focus on often excessive restriction of the intake of nutrients that are necessary for the body to function properly. If you follow one of these "fat-busting" or quick-fix type of diets, you may consequently affect your body’s capacity to function properly because your body’s immunity (defense against infection or specific diseases) will likely be compromised.

Don't be fooled

Weight-loss pills can pose additional health risks that can even be potentially deadly. The weight-loss industry, which is sustained by the increase in people's dissatisfaction with their weight and body image, preys on victims who are looking for easy solutions to a problem that requires serious management based on sound scientific advice. It is also sustained by exploiting people through the use of the the media. Businesses do this sometimes quite dishonestly, knowing that their product does not represent a true solution to the problem.

How to convince the enemy?

The healthy solution to lose weight is to address the root of the cause. If you have gained weight because you are eating more calories than you burn, you can lose weight only by eating healthy and/or becoming more active. In some cases, a bit of restraint at mealtimes, and using the stairs instead of the elevator might be enough to achieve balance.

Other people may have to be more careful than that, from choosing healthier foods in the supermarket, to changing food preparation methods, and decreasing their serving sizes. Including regular exercise is recommended for everyone. In addition to being the best way to burn unwanted fat, it will help your heart work better, control blood cholesterol levels, and enable you to go about your daily lives with ease.

Given the lack of adequate and effective mechanisms to control misleading advertising that has saturated the weight loss industry, it is up to us to avoid becoming victims of their “miraculous” claims.


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