Lose weight the easy way.
It never ends. When advertisements for one quick and easy cure for overweight,
arthritic pain, hair loss, or sexual inadequacy finally fade away, another
quickly takes its place. Are we really so gullible? Are we such easy marks?
The answer must be yes, because companies would not spend so much money
advertising repackaged versions of these same over-hyped products unless it
resulted in sales. There is obviously a market for products of this type. And,
perhaps to the discredit of conventional medicine, a paucity of effective
Consumers are gullible, and the purpose of this article is to help those
consumers better recognize when they are being misled by advertising on radio
and TV. Consumers can also be lazy, and too ready to embrace the easy,
miraculous quick-fix. Who needs sacrifice and will- power when, instead, you can
just take a pill and wake up in the morning with your problem solved?
In a way, the nutritional supplement industry is the victim of its own success.
Tremendous progress has been made in the use of vitamins, minerals and herbal
remedies in preventing and treating serious health problems. Even the most
hard-core anti-supplement fraction of conventional medicine and dietetics have
grudgingly acknowledged the role of nutrients in the battle against heart
disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis and many other health
We know that simple B-vitamins (folic acid, B6, B12) can help prevent birth
defects, heart disease, and perhaps Alzheimers disease. We know that certain
antioxidants can prevent or retard the onset of various types of vision loss. We
know that glucosamine sulfate, and chondroitin can alleviate arthritic joint
pain. Calcium supplementation, along with other minerals, is now officially
recommended for preventing and treating osteoporosis. Saw Palmetto works. St.
Johns Wort works. Feverfew works. Black Cohosh works. I could go on and on.
So, with this enhanced credibility, unscrupulous marketers need only to hint
that their new, miraculous cure for what ails you contains vitamins, herbs or
natural remedies, it seems, for them to convince a consumer to send it their
money. That, and testimonials.
I write many of the ads we read on The Willner Window radio program. It struck
me that when I write an ad, I always try to include information on what is
actually in the product. I talk about the ingredientswhat they are, and how
they contribute to the efficacy of the product. Yet most of the ads I hear on
the radiothe weight loss ads, baldness ads, bust enhancement ads, arthritis
cures, and sexual prowess rejuvenatorsnever mention what is actually in the
product. Why is that?
Maybe they have something to hide? Perhaps they feel you would not be impressed
if they merely said that the product was just another blend of glucosamine and
chondroitin, but twice the price of similar products in your corner health food
store or pharmacy. They are probably right. You might be less inclined, for
example, to send in your money if they told you up front that the product
contained ephedra and caffeine. Especially if they ran down the listing of
contraindications and warnings associated with such products. They are right. So
they dont. Instead, they resort to testimonials, half-truths, and deception.
They do it with skill, and they do it successfully.
To help you evaluate these often misleading ads, I am going to provide you with
a list of questions you should ask when you hear these types of commercials, or
watch the TV infomercials.
1. What is in the product? What are the active ingredients? Why would the
product be expected to do whatever they claim it does? What makes this
particular product so unique?
As a general rule, failure to prominently identify the active ingredients in a
product advertisement usually means that there is, in fact, nothing impressive
or unique about what it contains and/or that the ingredients might have negative
connotations they do not want you to know about until it is too late. I would
never purchase a nutritional/herbal supplementby telephone or by mail orderif
I did not know what the active ingredients were, and I strongly suggest you
follow this rule.
This applies to ads on the radio, infomercials on TV, as well as printed
advertisements. It amazed me when I first saw the five-page ads being run in
many health and body-building magazines for a very popular weight loss product.
Beautiful, glossy full color ads. Page after page, with before and after
pictures, and testimonials. And more testimonials. And even more testimonials.
Wow, I said. This must be one heck of a great product. I wonder what is in it.
But I could not find, anywhere, throughout the entire five pages of ads, a
statement of what was actually contained in the product. If this is not a red
flag, I dont know what is.
At the time this article was written, there has been heavy radio advertising for
a certain weight loss product. I wont mention the product name. The announcer
claims to have used it personally, with success. The ad is filled with
testimonials, promises and guarantees. They imply that its efficacy is
supported by clinical studies and patent approvals. Lose weight the easy way, by
taking this miraculous pill. There is one thing, however, that they fail to
mention in the advertisement. You guessed itwhat is in the product?
Well, you can look up more information on the products web site. So I did. And
even then, finding the actual ingredients was not easy. I had to proceed several
layers into the site, and only when clicking onto a link providing an actual
copy of the label, was I able to see the ingredients. Only then was I able to
discover what unique and innovative substances these folks had incorporated into
this product, substances that they would have you believe were unique to their
What were the active ingredients? Ephedra and caffeine.
The ephedra was listed under ma huang extract (15 mg ephedrine alkaloids) and
the caffeine was listed under guarana seed extract (60 mg caffeine). There
were many other ingredients listed, by the way. Its what I call the mish-mosh
approach. Mish-mosh is the technical term for throwing everything into a product
that might be associated with its intended use, no matter how remote that
connection might be.
But we know that a mixture of ephedra and caffeine is an effective weight loss
product. Effective, but not necessary benign. Its certainly not anything new.
Unfortunately, it functions more as a drug than a nutritional supplement, with
the potential for toxicity and side effects. And throwing a bunch of other
nutrients and herbs into an ephedra-caffeine combination is not going to change
the fact that it remains an ephedra-caffeine combination. You can paint spots on
a zebra, and paste some feathers on itbut you still have a zebra.
Big deal, you might say. It contains natural products, and it works! Well,
approximately one- third of the product label is taken up with the following
This product has 15 mg . concentrated ephedrine group alkaloids and 60 mg. of
caffeine per serving in the form of herbal extracts or powders.
(1) Not for use by individuals under the age of 18. Do not use if pregnant or
nursing. Consult a physician or licensed qualified healthcare professional
before using this product if you have, or have a family history of, heart
disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, recurrent headaches,
depression or other psychiatric conditions, glaucoma, difficulty in urinating,
prostate enlargement, seizure disorder, or if you are using a monoamine oxidase
inhibitor (MAO) or other dietary supplements, prescription drug or
over-the-counter drug containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine or
phenylpropanolamine (ingredients found in certain allergy, asthma, cough/cold,
and weight control products).(2.) Exceeding recommended serving may cause
serious adverse health effects including heart attack and stroke. (3.)
Discontinue use and call a physician or licensed qualified healthcare
professional immediately if you experience rapid heartbeat, dizziness, severe
headache, shortness of breath, nervousness, tremor, sleeplessness, loss of
appetite or nausea, or other similar symptoms. (4.) Individuals who consume
caffeine with this product may experience serious adverse health effects. The
maximum recommended dosage of ephedrine for a healthy adult human is no more
than 100 mg in a 24 hour period for not more than 12 weeks. KEEP OUT OF THE
REACH OF CHILDREN. Do not take this product if you are allergic to shellfish.
NOT FOR SALE TO PERSONS 17 YEARS OF AGE OR YOUNGER IN TEXAS. This product has
ephedrine group alkaloids in the form of herbal extracts and may cause serious
adverse health effects. Read the label and follow the directions. Report any
adverse effects to the Food and Drug Administration Medwatch number:
800-332-1088. Models have been compensated for photos. Models are not paid for
Now, the fact that the label bears a warning of this magnitude, and
significance, does not necessarily mean the product should not be used. For
certain overweight people, it may indeed be necessary to use a product of this
type. For others, the contraindications and warnings may preclude its use.
The problem is that during the radio commercial, we are provided with no way of
knowing any of this. We are not told what the ingredients are, and we are not
told about the warnings and contraindications. Why?
Is it because they have something to hide? Is it because if they told you up
front that this miracle product was just another variation on the ephedra-caffeine
theme, few listeners would go ahead and order it? Is is because many listeners
would realize that it is contraindicated in their case?
Isnt it wrong to withhold information on contraindications, warnings and side
effects until its too late? As best I can tell, the only way you find out what
is in the product, and what the warnings are, is either to buy it, and then read
the label, or to carefully search their web site until you find the link to the
product label. What if you are not computer literate? Sure, you can try to send
it back after you order it, but why should you be forced to go to all that
So if the advertisement does not tell you what is in the product, you should ask
why not. And, in my opinion, you should not buy the product.
2. Testimonial results not typical. The radio ad is pretty much nothing but
one big testimonial. When you log onto their web site, you are presented with
more testimonials. Testimonial after testimonial.
But when you look at the bottom of each page of the web site, what do you see?
You might be surprised to read:
The statements contained on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and
Drug Administration. Not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, mitigate or cure
any disease. Testimonial results not typical. Your actual results may vary.
Please read product labels before purchasing product. Click here for all product
labels. Please check with your physician before starting any weight loss
Testimonial results not typical. Your actual results may vary. Wait a moment.
The main basis for their claim that the product works is testimonials, and yet
they admit that these testimonial results are not typical? Even on the label,
right on the front panel, they say Results may vary based on individual effort
and other factors.
You can see the same thing on the 30 minute TV informercials. Ten minutes of
testimonials and/or fake interviews, and then when they flash the ordering
information up on the screen, a disclaimer is flashed across the bottom: These
results not typical . .
In other words, they are telling you that you should not assume everything they
have been telling you is true!
3. Backed by science. The radio ad mentions that the product is supported by 21
clinical trials. Or does it? Actually, if you pay careful attention, you will
notice that they do not actually say that. Instead, they say that the key
ingredients in the product are backed by 21 clinical trials.
21 clinical studies demonstrate results with XXXXs key ingredients. To view a
detailed listing of ingredients, click here.
Saying that the key ingredients are backed by clinical trials is quite different
than saying the product is backed by clinical trials. The difference is very
significant, but unless you listen carefully, you will not catch it. Of course,
as I mentioned above, we are not told what the key ingredients are.
The same, of course, could be said about any other product that contains ephedra
and caffeine. So what?
They go on to say: XXXX is 100% More Effective Than Diet And Exercise Alone!
According to a brand new, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, people taking
XXXX lost twice as much weight overall and almost twice as many inches from
their waists! This study also found that 92% of people who took XXXX according
to directions experienced significant weight loss.
First, never pay attention to talk about studies unless information on the
studyi.e. was it published, and where?is provided. Second, what does this
mean, assuming it was a valid study? We know that diet and exercise alone is not
effective for most people trying to lose weight. So almost any weight loss
supplement, when combined with diet and exercise, will provide better resultsat
least short term--than diet and exercise alone! The same can be said for most
supplements, meal replacement plans, and diet programs (Atkins, etc). Third,
they are not saying that their product resulted in more loss than other
products. They are merely saying, if you choose to take their word for it, that
this product results in more weight loss than no product at all, which is not
4. Money back guarantee. Such guarantees sound good, but when you read the fine
print, may not be as easy as you suspect. For example:
If for any reason youre not completely satisfied, simply return the empty
container(s) for a full refund PLUS 10%. To be eligible for the 110% guarantee,
please fill out and return the registration card that comes with your order
within 5 days of receipt. (Unless we have the registration card on file, you
will be ineligible for the 110% Lifetime Guarantee.) Youll also be required to
return empty containers for all the products that you have purchased, a copy of
your invoice, and short note explaining your dissatisfaction. Full details are
included with your order.
5. Too good to be true. Ive said it many times, but it bears repeating. Its
common sense, and something that should be obvious to everyone. If it seems too
good to be true, it most likely is indeed too good to be true.
These editorial comments brought to you by Don Goldberg, R.Ph., co-author of
the book, The Best Supplements For Your Health. For more information, and
additional commentary, visit www. bestsupplementsforyourhealth.com. This article
is taken from the Willner Chemists Jan-Feb Neswletter/Sale Flier. For a free
subscription to the Willner Chemists publications, call 1 800 633 1106, menu
option 1. Or send an email to email@example.com.