The Checkout

The Biggest Loser Is...

There are days when I think working at the Federal Trade Commission must be a blast.

Yesterday, the agency announced $25 million in settlements with several promoters of well-known weight-control products such as TrimSpa and CortiSlim.

Deceptive advertising is not a laughing matter, but some of the ads for these products are pretty funny.

Take an ad for One-A-Day WeightSmart multi-vitamin, which contains a green tea extract that supposedly does something for your metabolism. WeightSmart's maker, pharmaceutical giant Bayer, was not happy about being lumped in with the likes of Anna Nicole. And the company denied promoting WeightSmart as anything other than a multi-vitamin. But it had no qualms about preying on women's insecurities.

"Just in!" read one ad. "Most women over 30 can gain 10 pounds a decade, due in part to a slowing metabolism. ... So eat right, exercise, and take One-A-Day WeightSmart. The complete multi-vitamin with EGCG to enhance metabolism."

My favorite ad that the FTC looked at is Howard Stern plugging TrimSpa. (Hit Exhibit E to hear the audio.)

The secret of TrimSpa's success isn't a roly-poly ex-Playboy model who suddenly became svelte, but an appetite suppressant derived from a plant "used for centuries," the shock jock tells us, by African bushmen to keep away hunger on long hunting trips.

I guess TrimSpa's marketers figured a glassy-eyed blonde with big bosoms wouldn't work with Stern fans, but a little anthropology would.

TrimSpa's rebuttal to the FTC also made for good reading. The company agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle the FTC's charges that its weight-loss claims aren't backed by science without admitting any wrongdoing.

In a release, it said it was "put under a microscope" after Anna Nicole's 69-pound weight loss was "widely reported in the media." (Never mind those commercials that looked like a parody of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" video featuring Anna Nicole saying "TrimSpa baby.")

The FTC's concern was focused on the company's claims that its product produced rapid and substantial weight loss. But TrimSpa couched it as a referendum on Anna Nicole's waistline and, in this regard, the company said it triumphed. "Following a thorough review of TrimSpa's documentation, the FTC did not question whether her weight loss was real," the TrimSpa release said.

Here's where reviewing ads for weight-control products might get a little boring. There are always more ads to weed through. About 70 million Americans are trying to lose weight at any given time and about $33 billion is spent annually on weight-control products, according to the FTC.

Unless the products are harmful to people's health, they generally stay on the market. The companies promise to change their ad claims. Let us know if you notice a difference.

Have you ever been taken in by a phony weight-loss claim? What's the most outrageous one you've ever come across?

By Annys Shin |  January 5, 2007; 7:33 AM ET Legal Battles/Settlements
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Comments

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It should be hard to believe the amount of snake oil still being sold at this point in history, but it isn't. Witness Enzyte, the maker of which has been sued several times for its ridiculous claims yet still keeps hawking a product which doesn't do anything at all.

Another personal favorite of mine is Lipozene, the "active ingredient" in which is a polysaccharide from a food plant (the saccharide is glucomannan, the plant is commonly called the Devil's tongue lily). All the stuff does is soak up water and sit in your digestive tract. It doesn't do a thing to burn fat more quickly, etc. In fact, you can buy the exact same dietary fiber as a generic from your local health food store for a tiny fraction of the price charged for Lipozene. The claims made about the product, and the price charged for it, are absolutely outrageous... but it's still on the market.

A good rule of thumb is this: anything advertized on an infomercial or commercial that is supposed to have any sort of medical functionality, can be purchsed by calling an 800-block phone number, and which doesn't require a prescription is junk. It might not be harmful, but it won't live up to the claims made for it. Just don't buy this stuff. It's clear that being fined by the FTC isn't going to make the snake oil go away. It will only stop if people educate themselves enough to not be suckered and not buy junk "medicine" in the first place!

It would probaby help if we had better science education in this country, too, but that's a matter for some other discussion.

Posted by: Smilin' Bob Lives | January 5, 2007 8:35 AM


My opinion first

In the past 30 years the Surgeon General, American Heart Association and the medical community have been saying that there is no magic pill for loosing weight. Diet and exercise are the only way.
With that said, consumers continue disregard that and believe Trimspa, a host of other weight loss pill makers and shock jocks who promote it.

The question should be "how many times do you have to tell someone something before they understand it?" Pills don't cause weight loss.
Because Howard Stern made a joke about what the pill can do (the key word being "joke")someone who didn't loose weight complained.

At what point is the consumer responsible for their own actions? If you have been told 1000 times not to put you hand in the fire and some jock comes on the radio and says put your hand in the fire or some movie star says they had success with putting their hand in it, are you going to do it? If you do, who is to blame? The jock didn't force you to do it. The movie star didn't put a gun to your head. You did it on you own. Passing the blame only worsens the outcome for the next person.
This is just a case of blaming the gun for the killing, not the guy who pulled the trigger.

As to the question "Have you ever been taken in by a phony weight-loss claim?"
No.

Posted by: Radioactive Sushi | January 5, 2007 8:39 AM

Couldn't agree more here. People are so sucked into the easy way out of all kinds of things, and dieting always tops the "easy way out" chart. Here's a quick way to reduce you weight: put DOWN the pepsi/coke, pick UP the water. Science and technology has proven that the ONLY thing we can do to lower our body weight is this simple equation [calories IN < calories OUT].
Cheers!

Posted by: magic pills | January 5, 2007 8:53 AM

It's amazing to me the lengths that advertisers of "snake oil" products will go to sell their products. Preying on people's insecurities about their appearances is dispicable.
Several years ago, I decided that I needed to lose some weight. I was grossly over-weight and could feel the effects of poor health. After several failed attempts to lose weight with so called "revolutionary" diet alternatives straight from the rainforests of South America, I did a littel research and decided to try a healthier approach. Simply put, I put fewer calories in than out and ate lots of fresh raw vegetables and lean meats. Once a week, to reward myself and satisfy a "fat" craving, I had sinfully delicious chinese take out and then started my week all over again. I lost 2 lbs a week on average and after a year, I went from 275 to 155 and feel as if I've been reborn.
I've kept the weight off for several years now through no more effort than just watching what I eat and if I do have a "fast food" craving, that's ok, as long as it's something that I only indulge in once a week or so.
I discovered that for me there was no great mystery to weight loss....just healthy life changes in food intake and excercise.
I do understand, though, that some people are pre-disposed to live with certain body types and I admire them for living outside of the preconceived notions of what a person's anatomy should look like.
But if you are overwieght due to poor eating habits and high calorie intake, you must realize that diet pills will only result in a quick fix, at the most. The weight will return as soon as you fall back into your past eating habits.

Posted by: Trent | January 5, 2007 8:59 AM

Perhaps you should consider this...

Folks who would be "taken in" by this snake oil sales pitch would likely NOT be reading this article online and therefore would not be available to comment on whether or not they had been suckered.

THose online who HAVE been suckered (once... yeah... once...) would not be willing to admit it here.

Posted by: Me, Myself and I | January 5, 2007 9:15 AM

No, I haven't been sucked in by a phony weight loss ad. People who are just aren't in touch with reality. As one poster just said, the only way to lose weight is to maintain a sensible diet and exercise regularly. I have gone to Weight Watchers and their diet is probably the best. (Similar to the Mayo Clinic Diet and the diabetic exchange diet.) It includes all food groups in moderation, you have to drink a lot of water and go to those God-awful weekly meetings if you can stand them. I dropped out because I didn't like the same attention hogs who took over every meeting, but I still have the diet plan and try to stick to it whenever I can.

Posted by: Southern Maryland | January 5, 2007 9:18 AM

We definitely need better education as a country. Luckily I had a former professional trainer as a health teacher who foot stomped that the ONLY thing that will work and result in healthy and permanent weight loss and control is a HEALTHY DIET and EXERCISE. That is the big secret. Again here it is: Exercise and Eat Healthy. Cut your fat intake, have a balanced diet, and exercise. It takes effort that MOST, not all, people do not want to give- that is usually how they put on extra weight in the first place: Laziness. Did that make you mad? Good. Go out and work off some of that steam instead of reaching for your comfort food.
I put on weight after an injury. It is my intent to work it off. I understand there are health reasons for gaining weight and health problems that result from gaining weight. Diet and exercise will actually help. I hear too often how people complain of back and knee pain. Well, it's because your body was not meant to carry all that weight! If you lose it, the pain will eventually go away as you heal. Yes it is difficult. I have done it before and sadly must do it again- this time for only 10 lbs, but it can be done by just about anyone. The excuse of having bad genes is a cop-out. Less than 1 per-cent of the people with a weight problem have an inherited problem that will hinder- not stop- their weight loss efforts if they have a good diet and exercise. Get motivated and do it! It does not cost anything to look up how to do push ups, sit ups, flutter kicks, or any natural resistance training on the net. You do not need to join a gum or buy expensive equipment to get started. you can even do arm curls just by tensing your muscles, or just tighten your stomach and hold it for thirty seconds out of every minute. Little things add up. Remember to stretch as much as you work out.

Posted by: Chris | January 5, 2007 9:20 AM

One of the more ridiculous ads is the magic Q-ray bracelet, for only $19.95 of course. They make all kinds of claims about the many health improvements it offers by gathering mystical rays from the atmosphere. Folks, this just has to be a pure scam. Yet I have heard of no federal action on this or similar gadgets being sold over TV ads. I wonder how many poor suckers have been pulled in by this one? TV ads are not cheap.

Posted by: Bert | January 5, 2007 9:20 AM

Me, Myself and I,

On the contrary, I have been suckered before. Just not with diet claims. Everyone has. That's why there are laws in place to prevent it.

Posted by: Radioactive Sushi | January 5, 2007 9:20 AM

FTC? Big deal, it took the FTC to go after such dribble of dietpills for the dounut eaters who are too stupid and lazy to know better. I think its just to put themselves FTC in teh political spot light. What troubles me is why hasn't the FTC shown some real guts and gone after the poison on TV during the prime time hours and the lack of real legislation regarding internet porn access, Gay brain washing in every new movie, and trashy learics in music. Its a national disgrace what 10 year olds are hearing and seeing (learning). Grow up and get some guts. Do what your paid to do. Be the cultural lamp leader, not the cultural follower.

Posted by: Bill | January 5, 2007 9:22 AM

I actually saw an ad for a weightloss pill lastnight that i thought was great, it was just funny, it was for slimquick and it had these fat stick figured type people.
But anyway I used to buy weightloss products but after effedrine became illegal (I think it only worked because it made you too jittery to eat) they seemed to be just alot of caffine, so use them if you need a pick-me-up but you can also drink a cup of coffee and get the same result.

Posted by: fatty | January 5, 2007 9:23 AM

Chris is right on target here. Blaming the problem on genes or things like that is a cop out. If you want to loose, diet and exercise are the only "magic" ways. If you want to maintain, a balanced diet and exercise are the "magic" ways.

Posted by: Radioactive Sushi | January 5, 2007 9:29 AM

Dear Bill,

Quick civics lesson here. The FTC goes after fraudulent claims in advertizing; they're not chartered with policing the airwaves for morality. You seem to have confused the FTC with the FCC.

As a couple of other commentors have mentioned, better education is important. Apparently this doesn't apply just to science, but also to civics and government.

Posted by: Andy V. | January 5, 2007 9:30 AM

Speaking of snake oil, the largest snakeoil salesmen are the pharms and their lackeys (MD's). More people die from pharm products than any natural unproductive products. Trouble is, most people are brainwashed (lazy enough) to believe that the FDA is on their side, rather than self-educating and truly understanding their own body and choosing to change their lifestyle. I'll "weigh in" any day on the side of natural means versus the pharms magic bullets. We've been duped to believe that the corporate megagiants really care about our long term health through multi-billion dollar slick media hype and the multi-billion dollar slick medical establishment. (AMA=god).

Posted by: Chris | January 5, 2007 9:33 AM

No, I've never been duped. But I don't diet and exercise either. I really should take better care of my health

And I agree partly with a few commenters who said that the consumer should be responsible for their own actions regarding who they listen to and what they buy. Ultimately, nobody can make decisions for you but you.

However, I also believe in honest advertising. Companies should be held accountable for what they say their products do and I'm glad there are people policing that. Because lets face it, the Surgeon General's outlet for spreading information (little white one-liners in cigarette ads and beer bottles) is incomparable to the pop up ads and constant television ads. The idea is that if someone tells you enough times in a sincere way, eventually it corrodes people. People who are desparate to loose weight or whatever the case may be. Ads work. Otherwise companies would not spend money on them. Imagine the chaos if companies really could say or depict whatever they wanted with total freedom and no censorship.

Posted by: Christine | January 5, 2007 9:34 AM

Unfortunately, Washingtonpost.com is involved in this sort of sleazy business. While not quite the same as phony diet pills, one of the "featured advertiser" links on this website is to "bottomlinesecrets.com," a compendium of quackery which is not only absurd, but potentially dangerous, if people suffering from real diseases avoid medical treatment in favor of the "naturopathic" garbage it promotes. Some of the authors whose material is sold by bottomlinesecrets are prominently featured on the "Quackwatch" website, and have been prosecuted for this sort of thing in the past. Doesn't seem to stop them, however.

I complained about this to The Post's ombudsman, and the link was removed for awhile, but it's back again. It'd be nice to see The Post walk the talk.

Posted by: Nuke this | January 5, 2007 9:37 AM

I got sucked into trying Metabolife once. Went through about half the bottle without losing a pound, but always felt shaky and nervous. I went to return the last half and take advantage of their "no questions asked" 100% refund policy. They denied me the refund based on the fact that I had brought back the bottle 31 days after the purchase as opposed to t 30. I never tried the quick way again. I've been going to the same gym now for six years, and keep a prudent, though not fanatically strict, eye on my diet. So far so good.

Posted by: Kat | January 5, 2007 9:46 AM

To continue with a couple more tips- If you are having problems getting started or finding the time, start small so you do not have an excuse. If you try to go on a 5 mile run at the start and set an unreasonable short term goal you will get discouraged. Just by dedicating the time you are in your shower to clenching muscles as you bathe you are getting more exercise than you otherwise would. See if you can concentrate on tightening a muscle group while you go about your routine. You would be surprised at the challenge this presents and the progress you can make by just doing simple things like that during your routines!
I think snake oil people need to be held accountable for lying, but people need to be responsible to see through it. Again, diet and exercise! As someone who has been in the military, as someone who has been into martial arts, as someone who has been into fencing, as someone who went from the chubby nerd to being able to do all those things and run 3/4 of a mile with a hole in my lung I am telling you the only things that will work to get you there- and they require that you take responsibility- acknowledge the problem, identify the sollution as diet and exercise, and implement it. A few things I did were a bit extreme- but necessary. I did not eat dessert for an entire year, except on my B-day. I stopped using Mayo all together. I stopped eating pork (except the occasional brat). I only ate lean meats except once a week. Drink at least two glasses of water or juice with every meal. I cut soda out of my diet completely- no diet sodas either. I went from struggling to being able to do 60 propper sit-ups in a minute, back to back. Remember to start small and add to it. Exercise and healthy food! Your servings of meat should be no more than 4 ounces or the palm of your hand or a deck of cards. You need to keep getting protein but not fat. Do not go crazy counting the calories, just watch your grams of fat. Eat veggies- experiment with new ones. grill or bake squashes, eat salads with just balsamic vineager (dressings are bad)! Ok, I think that is just about everything I have found successful. Get to it!

Posted by: Chris | January 5, 2007 9:53 AM

Nuke this,

The Post doesn't sell bottomlinesecrets products. Bottomlinesecrets pays the Post to advertise. You're missing the point. Anyone with a advertising budget can advertise. It's wants in the advertisements that is at issue here.

Posted by: John | January 5, 2007 9:56 AM

"Pills don't cause weight loss."

Obviously you're not familiar with Phen-fen, Dexatrim, or any number of other uppers that work, but make you sick in the process.

Come to think, a heroin pill would cause you to lose weight just fine...got some pesky side effects, though.

Posted by: Newt | January 5, 2007 10:01 AM

Chris, you must be a former Marine or had some dealing with them. I like the stern talk. This is the way advertisers need to be. Open, up-front and honest. Many companies have to come up with shady advertising to see their products. Put a former military person in charge and you will see a huge turn-around in how things are done.

Posted by: Radioactive Sushi | January 5, 2007 10:02 AM

snake oil

Posted by: Anonymous Coward | January 5, 2007 10:10 AM

Bill ... before you go calling other people stupid, learn to spell "lyrics" and learn the difference between the FTC and the FCC.

Then keep your damn blue nose out of other peoples' business.

Posted by: SteveG | January 5, 2007 10:19 AM

If so many people are obese and just as many are anorexic, how can we determine what is 'Normal?' Surely there must be some happy medium between the 450-pound wheezing couch potato and the 80-pound anorexic no-talent starlet.

Posted by: Just a thought..... | January 5, 2007 10:22 AM

Weight loss for me was a very simple formula: Cut refined sugar out of my diet. When I turned 50, I suddenly went from 180 to 210 seemingly overnight. About a year later, with the urging of my family, I cut all sugar from my diet and in a matter of two months was back down to a much healthier 190. Speaking of diet pills... a friend of mine once quipped that he took diet pills once and all they did was make him eat faster.

Posted by: AppalachiaSlim | January 5, 2007 10:25 AM

I was a U.S. Chair Force officer. I flew a desk, but I have tried to keep a warrior first mentality and stay in shape. ROFLMAO. Some of the most shady politics and back-stabbing I can imagine... Sometimes I kick myself for not going Army instead, but unfortunately after the AF making me work in a moldy basement and getting diagnosed with Asthma they would not want me- despite the need for more troops. That is ok though, as I make more money now as a contractor than I would have had I stayed in the Air Force and played and tollerated the brown nosing games instead of speaking my mind and taking stands. The crazy things life throws at you are just more things that must be overcome. I may not be as happy since I am not facing all sorts of challenges, or even be wearing a uniform anymore as part of the armed forces, but I have to be thankful I can still contribute to society- You can never stop looking for something better you can do for yourself, the country, or the world. Keep pushing on. You do not need a uniform, or fancy training to make you strong- just the right frame of mind, and dedication to doing something right no matter what.

Posted by: Chris | January 5, 2007 10:27 AM

These "magic pills" are not the end all be all. It says right on the bottle to combine it with an effective exercise and diet regimen. The advertising get's ridiculous on these pills. The thing is they are only meant to help the person in losing body fat, you still have to workout and eat properly. Then and only then will you see any effect from these supplements.

Posted by: Eric | January 5, 2007 10:31 AM

Newt,

Phen-fen and Dexatrim are no more than speed. All they do/did was raise you metabolism, not cut weight. And Phen-fen was removed from the market because it killed a lot of people.

Heroin...? just stupid. Loose weight by doing damage to your body and then die from it.
Next I guess you will say "if you want to loose weight, cut off a leg"

So, no there is no magic pill for weight loss.

Posted by: Radioactive Sushi | January 5, 2007 10:32 AM

Education is the key. Very little of this stuff has randomized studies to back it up.

And most consumers don't understand why you need studies.

I speak to most of my patients, fat and skinny about conditioning and weight loss. Not to borders on malpractice.

Count Calories and exercise, and you'll feel better and live longer. It's real simple.

Posted by: james Jones md | January 5, 2007 10:35 AM

U.S. Chair Force Officer... hahahahah *snort* that's hilarious

Posted by: Tina | January 5, 2007 10:36 AM

Years ago there used to be a diet aid actually called 'Ayds.' "Lose weight with AYDS" was their slogan. It was a little piece of chocolate fudge candy that you ate before meals, allegedly to reduce your appetite. Then the real AIDS came along and the original Ayds dropped out of sight. An uncle of mine used this; he'd eat a box of this candy, then eat like a horse and couldn't figure out why he didn't lose weight! DUH!

Posted by: Southern Maryland | January 5, 2007 10:37 AM

Well said Chris. Sorry for the "You must be a Marine" comment. The Air Force has more level headed approach to things, but they are still steadfast in doing it right and without padding it and without worrying about hurting peoples feelings :). Being upfront and honest is the only way.

Posted by: Radioactive Sushi | January 5, 2007 10:39 AM

Hey, Southern Maryland, how's the fridge treating you?

Posted by: Chris | January 5, 2007 10:41 AM

Chris;
your coments are hilariously as misinformed as the products you rail against.
No Pork ?? why ? It's about as good a protein source as you can find.
AMA as being some instrument of the devil ? It's a lobbying arm and only 35 % of US physicians even belong to it. No clout over medical practice, no nothing actually.

I applaud your regimen and you are correct that excercise and elimination of simple carbs ( sugar etc ) is the way to go.


Posted by: DrJ | January 5, 2007 10:44 AM

They should do something about the fat between the ears first.

Posted by: Cartman | January 5, 2007 10:46 AM

The most effective weight-loss technique I ever saw affected a friend who'd been overweight since high school, and in college became dangerously obese. One summer doing archeological field work in Africa, she got amoebic dystentery. Lost over 100 pounds, nearly died. When she got back, the comment she got most from friends as they first saw her: "You look fantastic!" Incredibly insensitive friends, but a very effective treatment. Yet somehow I doubt the FTC would approve it.... ;)

Posted by: No, really | January 5, 2007 10:47 AM

Southern Maryland,

"Years ago there used to be a diet aid actually called 'Ayds.'"

Listen to Stern much?

Posted by: Radioactive Sushi | January 5, 2007 10:47 AM

Hi, Chris: Thanks for asking. The repairman said the door was warped. The gasket around the door didn't hold a seal. He said these things are made of aluminum now and the cost of a new door would be half as much as a new fridge. So I bit the bullet and got a new refrigerator. The one causing problems (Kenmore) was nearly 9 years old, I had previous problems with water from the freezer leaking into the bottom. So, I sprung for a new Magic Chef with ice maker. It's nice. Drop on down for a glass of wine on the front porch sometime.

Posted by: Southern Maryland | January 5, 2007 10:48 AM

WTF? I did not say anything about the AMA... -scrolls up- DANG IT there IS another Chris on here.... I hate when that happens. I cut pork out because of bacon and sausage- the main stuff I and other big breakfast people love. Sorry I was not specific there as I was on a little rant roll.
As far as eliminating carbs that is not what I was saying to do if you are exercising. Cut the fatty stuff out and do not worry too much about the other details as they will complicate your regimine and make you lose heart in the long run. The key is exercise though. If you are not doing that it really does not matter what you are eating because you will not lose weight and be healthy about it.

Oh, and forget surgery for most cases. I have seen too many doctors say that people need it so they could make money, when it is rarely the case the person would die without a band or bypass. Sure it will take longer and will be a painful struggle, but it will be worth the effort to do it naturally and you can take pride in doing it when you look back.

Posted by: Chris | January 5, 2007 10:58 AM

In response to the comments from Just a Thought, I understand your perspective, but would have to argue that we're not talking points on a bell curve or some mean average, but rather a very objective peg to what science and nutrition have deemed to be healthy. "Normal," then, would be those weights respective of age, height, etc., that were within a healthy range. Obviously then, neither opposite end of the extreme would fit or should factor in.
I would also go a step further to say that it's very important to recognize that the more that people justify being unhealthy (read: complacent, self-defeating, lazy, etc. for the most part) by looking at it in ways like this, the more the problem will perpetuate. There is a serious problem with personal accountability in this country nowadays and it's prevalent everywhere - from children in school (it was the test), to politicians, to religious leaders to EVERYWHERE.
And half-wits like Bill who can't distinguish the difference between separate governmental agencies propel it. Yeah, what we need is more censorship. Then we can again pass the buck for personal choice and responsibility on to politicans where it belongs? Are you delusional? Ever heard of parental controls/locks on the TV programs that kids watch, setting passwords for internet usage at home and recording the history of the websites visited, or better yet, how about actually supervising children? Oops, forgot. That would require the type of time and effort that would be necessary to do things like exercise and diet.

Posted by: Bill's English Teacher | January 5, 2007 11:04 AM

Whenever friends of these companies are in control of Washington nothing will change. To solve this problem of we need to keep Republicans on leash.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2007 11:04 AM

supprisingly cutting off limbs wouldnt help you would be suprised a leg doesnt weigh much

Posted by: Stewie | January 5, 2007 11:06 AM

Thanks Bill, for volunteering to be an example of why many people in this country need more education. You stated "it took the FTC to go after such dribble of dietpills...". Such dribble of diet pills? Not very good English buddy... Then you state "I think its just to put themselves FTC in teh political spot light." Themselves FTC does not make sense, and last time I checked "teh" is not a word in the dictionary.

I wouldn't have bothered responding for that alone, but then you go on to really wow us with your intellect by saying that there is too much porn on the internet, there is "Gay brain washing in every new movie", and "trashy learics in music" (misspelled - try "lyrics").

First of all, porn has been around in large volume for decades - if you don't like it, don't look at it. If you don't believe me, consider the fact that part of the reason that Sony lost the BetaMax vs. VHS war in the early 80s is that they refused to license pornography (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Videotape_format_war). What that tells you is that many people like porn and they watch it, and they have every right to legally do so in this country. If you don't want your kids to see it, then monitor what they do on the internet and don't let them have a computer in their bedroom. Long before the internet however, kids have been finding stashes of porn magazines, VHS tapes, and DVDs in homes of parents that purchase it. My parents never did so, and I'm not a collector myself, but that is reality and it doesn't bother me that much.

As far as your statement about gay brainwashing - give me a freaking break man. Anyone that makes sweeping generalizations like that has no idea what they're talking about. Guess what - there are gay people out there, there always have been, and they aren't going anywhere. I can guarantee you that the vast majority of movies that are released every year do not contain "gay" material or promote "gayness" in any way. Gay people are not trying to take over the world, and they're not trying to recruit your kids into their legion. The only difference nowadays is that gay people are allowed to be open about it, and frankly, I don't think it's a bad thing for people to accept the reality that some percentage of the population is gay (and always has been) and show a little tolerance and let them live their lives. If you don't like a movie for its content or ideas, then don't watch it. Presumably you have legs, or a wheelchair, or some way of moving yourself around (assuming you're not as lazy at that as you are with spelling) and can leave a theater or change the channel if something comes on that you don't approve of.

My siblings and I grew up in the 80s, and all of the porn/gay activism/trashy lyrics you rant about were around then as they are now, and we all turned out straight, hard-working, law-abiding, family oriented citizens despite all the "poison" around us. Do you know why? We had parents that taught us right from wrong, and developed the ability to think and decide for ourselves what was "poison" and what was not.

To tie back in to the point of this article, I believe it is the duty of our government to look out for the best interests of its citizens and protect them from fraud - they work for us after all; but Bill, if you think it should decide what beliefs, ideas, and entertainment people are and are not allowed to have access to, then get the hell out of this freedom-loving country and go join the Taliban or something.

Posted by: Rosslyn | January 5, 2007 11:15 AM

I never listen to Stern, that putz! But the jock 'backintheday" used to be; "Ohh Yeah, I'm on the Ayds diet plan..." I lost 10 pounds, a liver, and a kidney!" lolololo

Posted by: JuSt_AnoTheR_sQuirll | January 5, 2007 11:16 AM

Rosslyn: EXCELLENT COMMENTS.....you hit in detail everything I was attempting to get at. I'd also add that in countless other countries that have far more personal freedoms in expression and exposure to content than we claim to have, the prolific nudity/pornography, obscene musical lyrics, or whatever else may offend those delicate souls like Bill who can't make proper choices, have not had detrimental effects in any way. Duh.

Posted by: Bill's English Teacher | January 5, 2007 11:30 AM

Rosslyn,

You wrote a book there and the only thing that was on point was the last paragraph. And even that was a little weird.

Who cares what this guy thinks. Responding to him just game him a reason to speak more trash.

Posted by: John | January 5, 2007 11:32 AM

I was a competitive swimmer from the age of 8 through high school - sometimes working out with two teams every day; AAU in the morning, high school after class, then AAU after high school workouts. Back then I couldn't keep weight on and I was taking in from 5-7 thousand calories a day and a lot of that was junk.

Guess what happened after graduation? I stopped swimming and did not change my eating habits. Of course, I gaining 50 pounds in six months. Got that perpetual hang-over, if you know what I mean. I was tempted by the diet pills at the time, but thought better of it and started exercising daily - mostly walking and riding a bike. I also dropped my calorie intake to around 1500-2000 daily and made sure the meals were balanced with a slight reduction in simple carbs from the recommended daily allowance. Six months later I was back to my graduation weight.

I am now 53 years old, 5'8" tall and weigh 175 pounds (a little more than high school but my legs are bigger 'cause of the bike riding). My body fat is around 6% (a little higher than I would like) and I can still wear my 28" waist jeans.

My point is this: You are what you eat - eat crap and you look like crap. Eat healthy and you will at least look healthy.

As far as the bands/surgery to help the obese lose weight: If these people truly are "big-boned" the bands/surgery will not work either. If the bands/surgery do work, you could have saved yourself a lot of money by putting the fork down and jogging around the block.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2007 11:37 AM

If the news departments of the TV and radio stations which take the advertising for these phony products conducted exposes of the on a regular basis, it would not be that much of a problem.

As usual, the villains are found in the sales department and the broadcast management.

As a former manager, I have told obviously fraudulent advertisers to take a hike. It works every time and there are always other legit businesses to take their place.

Posted by: Steve G | January 5, 2007 11:57 AM

John, that's your opinion and that's great - that's what blogs are for. I responded because I wanted to and last time I checked there wasn't a regulation on how long a comment is allowed to be. If it's too long by your book then skip it - I do it all the time when I see something that doesn't interest me.

Posted by: Rosslyn | January 5, 2007 11:58 AM

I remember Ayds. It came packaged to look like candy. They were little cubes, flavored chocolate or caramel and you were supposed to eat two and drink hot liquids, like coffee or tea. They had cellulose which was supposed to expand in your stomach and make you feel full. I was a kid, my mother would buy them and I would sneak them because I craved sweets. If you didn't drink the hot liquids, they seemed to have no effect. Don't know if they worked for Mom, but at $2.00 a box, she quit buying them. This was in the late sixties.

Posted by: Seattle | January 5, 2007 12:03 PM

Also worth noting, the body's metabolism really doesn't slow down as people age just due to being older. Their lifestyle prevents them from continuing the same habits (exercise and diet) as they may have had when they were younger. Thus, a big part of the slowdown is due to muscle atrophy, whereby every pound of muscle lost is equivalent to 50 less calories burned during idle time. Do the math: Someone who worked out regularly when younger that eventually loses 20 pounds of muscle as they age burns 1000 less calories per day while doing nothing! For all those planning to engage in weight loss, do not overlook the importance of including weight training (anaerobic exercise) in your overall regimen - a lot of people focus on cardio (aerobic exercise) alone. Clearly, the benefits of every additional pound of muscle you gain are tremendous to keeping the weight off permanently.

Posted by: Bill's English Teacher | January 5, 2007 12:03 PM

Rosslyn,

Ever heard of sticking to topic?

Posted by: John | January 5, 2007 12:18 PM

Ahh...another "squirll". I suppose this blog now has it's own Chip n Dale's. (weak attempt at humor).

I've never done the diet pills thing, but I've watched my mother struggle for as long as I can remember with resisting them as an easy way out. We are both overweight, but I choose the healthy eating/exercise route to maintain my weight. She has done Dexatrim, Phen-fen, Metabolife, Slim Fast, Trim This, Trim That, and some others I haven't discovered yet. She hides the pills and denies she does them...or makes excuses. She is still overweight. The only time she ever lost anything was the time she became depressingly anorexic/bulemic. She shed damn near 100 pounds and looked like a ghost of her former self. She's back up in the numbers today, sighs, but she has color to her face, and that's all that matters.

I've done the preachy thing, the educational facts thing, the emotional plea thing...nothing seems to deter her from trying the next easy exit from obesity. She sees the ads on TV, the internet, and in the stores. And she is an otherwise bright lady, so I'm at a loss to explain why she's so stubborn on this issue.

She hasn't mentioned surgery because she hates hospitals, so I'm not worried about that. It doesn't help that she has a stressful job, catty co-workers, and eats most meals out...and comes home at the end of the day too tired to exercise (the treadmill at the house has like a 3 inch layer of dust on it. It is only used when I visit.)

We can joke about how stupid the people who try these things are, but I tell you my mom isn't normally stupid. So, what is it that drives people to go against their common sense, against all the evidence, and put these poisons into their bodies? Might the blame also extend to our oversexualized, youth-obsessed popular culture where women are objectified and crammed into narrow, one-size-fits-all ideologies? Why punish the few companies that cater to our desires when it is each one of us that creates these desires to begin with? Just some thoughts...

No, I'm not a feminist or a democrat, so don't throw the blue label at me.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | January 5, 2007 12:19 PM

CyanSquirrel - No, the blame doesn't belong there, and as I said previously, allowing people to utilize this type of argument to shift fault is doing them a disservice. Healthy living and the problems stemming from emphasis on self-image and a culture focusing on perfection should be mostly mutually exclusive conversations. I doubt that when your mother potentially develops diabetes, hypertension, or other medical affliction due to being overweight, that she can say that maintaining a healthy weight was all skin-deep. And as an individual like everyone else experiencing rising health care costs and taxes diverted to servicing the problems of obesity, I find it offensive that personal accountability can again be bypassed instead as a burden on the fashion industry, media, etc. for their unfair portrayal of what healthy is. Please. I would say that 99% of this country is in agreement that Kate Moss and the other underweight models recently banned in Italy are not the ideal.

Posted by: Bill's English Teacher | January 5, 2007 12:35 PM

CyanSquirrel,

I see this topic means a little more to you that the others in the past.

I too shared the experience of having to loose weight with many of the same influences you described that your mother endured.

Needless to say it is very hard when the world is pulling you from all different directions. Stress alone can have a huge impact on the weight one will lose and does depression. I struggled for a long time, but I managed to pull it off.

With that said, everyone is different and everyone has the perfect method for them. The hardest part is finding it and sticking with it.

Companies knowing these facts, allows them to craft ads to sell there products. When one is stressed about loosing weight, sometimes we toss out the facts and go for the easy way because a) we haven't tried it yet and b) nothing else has worked.

The fact is the only magic that will ever work with weight loss is of the D and E variety. Diet and Exercise.

Peace brother

Posted by: Radioactive Sushi | January 5, 2007 12:59 PM

I saw right through those diet ads ... using the X-Ray specs that I bought from a comic book!

Posted by: Tom T. | January 5, 2007 1:08 PM

Rosslyn,

Ever heard of sticking to topic?

Posted by: John | January 5, 2007 1:10 PM

I've discovered that if you buy a lot of these weight loss products you will lose weight, mainly because you don't have enough money for food. But I will as soon as that nice Nigerian guy deposits $12,000,000 in my bank account.

Posted by: Howard | January 5, 2007 1:22 PM

Steve G,

"As a former manager, I have told obviously fraudulent advertisers to take a hike. It works every time and there are always other legit businesses to take their place."

Are you wondering why you are a "former" manager? Those who don't sell ads, are on the short list for a final long walk to the front door.

It's about money. If you don't generate it, you are walked out.

The broadcast agency is not held responsible for an ads claims. You were in the business, right? You should know this.

Posted by: Ad Guy | January 5, 2007 1:24 PM

LOL at Howard. Hey, that's MY $12,000,000!!!


Dang, almost forgot one more thing in addition to diet and exercise. Cayenne pills. Make them yourself. It can help digestion- and give you heartburn and a long trip to the bathroom if you take too much at once... but if you take it WITH DIET AND EXERCISE it might help a little with the metabolism and clearing crap out of your system.

Posted by: Chris | January 5, 2007 1:52 PM

Hey fat people, here's one for you. Eat less, move around more!

Posted by: Matt | January 5, 2007 2:00 PM

John--

Ah, but that is exactly the point. Fraudulent advertising generally requires two parties (unless the product manufacturer produces and distributes its own material): the party placing the fraudulent advertisement and the outlet that accepts it without attempting to ascertain the validity of the claims.

You may argue that it's not (in this example) The Post's responsibility to ensure that the material in the advertisement is accurate, and in some cases that may be true, but I assume that reputable newspapers have standards for advertising that is acceptable. When I originally brought the link to the attention of the ombudsman, she agreed that it was not something that The Post should have accepted. I regret to see that that conviction seems not to be shared by others at Washingtonpost.com.

The line between what is and is not acceptable in such cases, regardless of the advertising medium (TV, radio, newspapers, websites), may be fuzzy, but "caveat emptor" should not be the stock response.

Posted by: Nuke this | January 5, 2007 3:07 PM

Bill's English Teacher is someone I agree with. Dude, we know that personal responsibility is not supposed to ever be abdicated and I'm all for reminding people of that. But we...and indeed readers of the Post et al., in general...are also more educated than most folks throughout the country, and it can be easy to stand on the soap box instead of getting down to these people's levels and seeing the world through their paradigm. What's funny, my mom KNOWS these are not good for her, she KNOWS she should lose weight, and she KNOWS she's beautiful as she is, but for some reason knowing and using this knowledge productively are not connecting for her. I fear that is true for most women. We know things to be true, but we then do the opposite, mostly in response to environmental cues.

Not blaming anyone but her for her issues.

Nyeh...

Then there's the question of having a long but healthy and sterilized life, or a short but full life replete with things and experiences you want to do within the framework of 24 hours a day and competing demands on your time. Not passing judgment here, just pointing out that being healthy and living to 100 ins't always at the forefront of people's minds heh...

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | January 5, 2007 3:57 PM

Bill's English Teacher is someone I agree with. Dude, we know that personal responsibility is not supposed to ever be abdicated and I'm all for reminding people of that. But we...and indeed readers of the Post et al., in general...are also more educated than most folks throughout the country, and it can be easy to stand on the soap box instead of getting down to these people's levels and seeing the world through their paradigm. What's funny, my mom KNOWS these are not good for her, she KNOWS she should lose weight, and she KNOWS she's beautiful as she is, but for some reason knowing and using this knowledge productively are not connecting for her. I fear that is true for most women. We know things to be true, but we then do the opposite, mostly in response to environmental cues.

Not blaming anyone but her for her issues.

Nyeh...

Then there's the question of having a long but healthy and sterilized life, or a short but full life replete with things and experiences you want to do within the framework of 24 hours a day and competing demands on your time. Not passing judgment here, just pointing out that being healthy and living to 100 ins't always at the forefront of people's minds heh...

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | January 5, 2007 4:00 PM

Sorry for the double post. Technical problems.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | January 5, 2007 4:01 PM

"Rosslyn,

Ever heard of sticking to topic?
"

Hey John, you're not sticking to the topic.

Ppppphhhfffffftttttt!

Posted by: Jack Sprat | January 5, 2007 4:14 PM

For many people, eating is a medication for emotional issues. When they feel bad, they reach for something to eat. If the underlying emotional issue is removed, they have no trouble at all losing weight.

Go see www.emofree.com for a free method to eliminate emotional issues. There are lots of articles there about losing weight successfully. It's a little on the unusual side, but it works.

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