Extension News

Worst Diet Promotions Get Slim Chance Awards, ISU Extension Nutrition Specialist Says

1/6/2009

AMES, Iowa – The Healthy Weight Network recently released its 20th annual Slim Chance Awards, said Ruth Litchfield, a registered and licensed dietitian and Iowa State University Extension state nutrition specialist.

“These awards from the Healthy Weight Network feature the hidden dangers of diets and supplements that often contain unknown ingredients and sometimes potent drugs,” Litchfield said. “Many of these diets and supplements are just plain ridiculous and don’t even have a ‘slim chance’ of working.”

The nutrition specialist shared some highlights of the Slim Chance awards.

WORST GIMMICK: Skineez jeans ($139). To fight cellulite, Skineez jeans are impregnated with retinol and chitosan, a shellfish product once claimed to cut fat absorption in the stomach. According to the Healthy Weight Network, Skineez claims that friction between the jeans and skin triggers release of the substance, which goes to work on fat when absorbed through the skin. However, the network stated, the Federal Trade Commission emphasizes that products worn or rubbed on the skin do not cause weight loss or fat loss.

WORST CLAIM: AbGONE. Advertised as “proven to promote pot belly loss,” AbGONE claims to increase “fat metabolism” and calorie burn, promote appetite suppression and inhibit future abdominal fat deposits. The Healthy Weight Network said, “These are drug claims that, if true, would alter the body’s regulation, but unlike drugs, the pills are sold as food supplements not requiring Food and Drug Administration approval.” The network also noted that AbGONE advertisements included a “fine print disclaimer at the bottom that reminds us ‘diet and exercise are essential.’”

WORST PRODUCT: Kimkins diet. According to the Healthy Weight Network, Heidi “Kimmer” Diaz set up a Web site and charged members a fee to access the Kimkins diet, claiming they could lose up to 5 percent of their body weight in 10 days. The network said Diaz claimed she had lost 198 pounds in 11 months and her diet was “better than gastric bypass.” In one month alone, records show the Kimkins site took in more than $1.2 million. However, the Healthy Weight Network said, users began complaining of chest pains, hair loss, heart palpitations, irritability and menstrual irregularities; not surprising since Kimkins is “essentially a starvation diet, down to 500 calories per day and deficient in many nutrients.” According to a deposition, Diaz admitted using fake pictures, stories and IDs; a judge has allowed litigants to freeze some of her assets.

“In today’s economy, don’t waste your money on ineffective and sometimes dangerous weight loss efforts,” Litchfield said. “However, investing wisely in your health does provide dividends. Research suggests that a $1 investment in health promotion or wellness programs delivers a $4 to $8 savings in health care costs.”

Litchfield added, “The most important investment you can make is in healthy habits that last a lifetime, not the most recent popular diet. Live Healthy Iowa provides the opportunity to establish these healthy habits and fosters the support network so necessary for successful behavior changes.”

The 2009 Live Healthy Iowa program begins Jan. 14. For more information or to register visit www.LiveHealthyIowa.org. Live Healthy Iowa is a partnership of the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Games and Iowa State University Extension.

For more information on the Healthy Weight Network visit http://www.healthyweightnetwork.com/.

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Contacts :
Ruth Litchfield, Food Science and Human Nutrition, (515) 294-9484, litch@iastate.edu

Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-0775, lsternwe@iastate.edu

Nicole Bruce, Coordinator of Live Healthy Iowa, (888) 777-8881, nicole@livehealthyamerica.org  

Tim Lane, Iowa Department of Public Health, (515) 281-7833, tlane@idph.state.ia.us