I had an interesting conversation with a friend recently about her struggles with weight. She knows my story very well, and I have gone out of my way to encourage her to try a path similar to mine (work with a nutritionist, give yourself lots of time, focus on eating real foods in balance, etc.). She resists this path because she is on a quest that many of us are familiar with–the search for the quick fix to weight loss. She was telling me about how much weight she had gained, and that the Green Coffee Bean extract that she bought after seeing an episode of Dr. Oz hadn’t worked.
Her story made me so sad, and then mad. People make billions of dollars a year peddling this type of modern day snake oil to desperate people who have tried everything to lose weight. And in the first weeks of the new year, the advertising accelerates trying to capitalize on the guilt we feel after holiday indulgences. I used to be one of these people, chasing every fad diet and weight loss pill that promised quick and easy weight loss. A cruel promise because it offers hope but never delivers results.
I want you to be well informed about these products and their promises. So, I invited Brenna Thompson, registered and licensed dietitian with Nutritional Weight and Wellness and nutrition blogger (Eating Simple), to give you some researched information on the topic.
Brenna Thompson, LD, RD comments on Dr. Oz and his weight loss supplement peddling
Dr. Oz is about as bad as a politician when it comes to health and wellness. One day he tells us a healthy diet is low in fat, the next day he invites Dr. William Davis on to discuss wheat and gluten, and then the next day he has a nutritionist touting the newest weight loss miracle pill. So which is it Dr. OZ, what is the ultimate secret to weight loss? At this point I’m not sure even he knows.
Recently he spot-lighted the magical benefits of green coffee bean extract (GCBE). Supposedly, taking this supplement will melt away the pounds without having to change one’s diet or increasing exercise. Sounds too good to be true to me. However, unlike the famous
raspberry ketone show, there are a few studies, that have shown supplementing with GCBE may actually help people lose weight. Don’t get too excited just yet. The most recent study is very small (16 test subjects), who took a placebo, 700mg, 1050mg, for 6 weeks with 2 weeks between doses. Results showed an average weight loss of 6-10 pounds during the highest dose period. Unfortunately, there is no information on how long these people kept the weight off.
During the show, Dr. Oz went on and highlighted two audience members who took GCBE for 1 week. Both lost 2-5 pounds and stated that they had fewer cravings and more energy. But can we really trust them? They’re on Dr. Oz! Of course they’re going to say they felt great taking the supplement. In the words of Dr. House, “Everyone lies.” The Dr. Oz Show Medical Unit went on and conducted its own larger study using 100 overweight women and found that after taking 400mg of GCBE for two weeks the GCBE group lost 2 pounds and the placebo group lost 1 pound. Both groups were told not to change their diets. So then how did the placebo group still manage to lose one pound? Obviously this is not a very scientific study, and its results should not be trusted.
Currently no large, long-term studies have been performed on GCBE, so we don’t know how long a person can take it and possibly lose
weight. We also don’t know if there are any negative side effects from long term use. As usual, it doesn’t address the reason a person gained excess weight in the first place–poor diet habits. Sure people might lose weight, but they are not necessarily healthier. Body weight is not the problem, it is a symptom. Inevitably, once someone stops taking the supplement they will probably gain the weight right back.
For people willing to tune out Dr. Oz, long-term sustained weight-loss can be theirs. But it takes time and effort, and there are no magic pills. This year make a commitment to yourself. This year you are going to eat real foods. You are going to eat balanced meals and snacks and not starve yourself. This year you will stop believing in magic pills and quick fixes. This year you will begin believing in your own power to make good choices and to nourish your body.
I am a little late to the party commenting on these Blue Cross Minnesota ads that address the obesity epidemic. First, a couple of statistics:
- By 2019 obesity will become the leading cause of death.
- By 2030 50% of Minnesotans will be obese.
In the face of these terrifying numbers, you can see how it seems like a good idea to highlight food choices and how these choices look to our kids. These ads have been roundly criticized for being too shaming and down right mean. See for yourself.
I think the ads would be appropriate if we had a consistent and coherent message about what people need to do to lose weight; if the people in the commercials knew better, they could do better. But we don’t have these consistent messages. We live in the land of “calories in, calories out,” “Move more!” and other overly simplistic maxims about how to lose weight. We also live in a land where heavily-subsidized foods (corn, soy) are promoted as healthy, but they are making us fat.
It’s all about cravings
Anyone who reads this blog, and who is trying lose weight differently (something other than a one-size-fits-all diet), knows that losing weight takes more than this overly simplistic advice leads us to believe. If we truly want to help people, like the ones in these ads, make better choices, we need to shake off the overly simplistic advice and get real about what it takes to lose weight for the LONG TERM. Until we address the issue of people’s biochemical cravings for the bad stuff, people cannot lose weight. If we are relying on people’s will power to lose weight, which much of the advice does, they will fail over and over like I did for 30 years. No number of ads will change that.
What are your thoughts on the ads? Leave a comment.
I was on Dishing Up Nutrition this past Saturday talking about habits that hold back weight loss. You can listen here or download the show from iTunes. We talked about a lot habits that keep us from reaching our weight loss goals, including “closet eating” episodes like wolfing down a bag of M&Ms in the Menard's parking lost. It was a great show, and I hope you enjoy it!
By Lea Wetzell, MS, CNS, LN
Calorie counting; adding up points; weighing, measuring and journaling every ounce of food; countless hours at the gym; stepping on the scale day in and day out; and still fat? Does this sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. As a nation we have become obsessed with dieting and exercise, but all of these efforts have not put the slightest dent in our obesity epidemic. Currently in the U.S., over a third of the population is considered obese and two thirds overweight. Why are we caught in this fat trap? Maybe losing weight is more complex than just counting “calories in” and exercising “calories out.” Read the rest of this article