Big fat waste of money

Thursday 17 May 2012

What if the motivation for your next diet was money, lots of it, for every pound you lost? Celebrity endorsers like Jennifer Hudson and Mariah Carey are paid salaries ranging from $500,000 to $3 million. Jessica Simpson has reportedly just signed a $3 million contract with Weight Watchers to lose the 40 pounds she gained during pregnancy. The payout averages about $33,000 per pound lost. Yup, you read that right, they make more for losing a pound than many Americans earn in a year.
The price per dropped pound is merely a drop in the bucket for the diet companies though. The U.S. Weight Loss & Diet Control Market found that the diet industry made more than $60 billion in 2010, and is still growing. In fact, their profits have grown for years. It's funny because you'd think that if their products worked, the new crop of permanently skinny people they created wouldn't need their services anymore and their profits would drop. In fact, many of those highly paid celebrities can't keep the weight off - for every Jennifer Hudson there's a Queen Latifah or Kirstie Alley. Carnie Wilson actually got fired from being the spokesperson for Fresh Diet when she didn't lose as much weight as they had hoped - and is now trying LAP-BAND surgery after a gastric bypass failed her.
Sure the money is good incentive to lose weight. But money can't change physiology. The human body has a number of reactions to weight loss specifically for the purpose of weight regain. Every study since 1953 has shown that almost everyone (about 95% of people) gain back all their weight within 5 years, with up to two-thirds gaining more than they lost, even if they maintain their diet habits. Even the National Institutes for Health has admitted that no matter how people lose weight, almost all of them gain it back. Half a century of research tells us that the more we diet, the fatter we get.
Let's recap: We collectively give $60 billion a year to an industry with a 5 percent success rate! They in turn use that money to pay million dollar salaries to celebrities (who have personal chefs, dietitians and personal trainers) to convince us to buy more of their product. Huh? With $60 billion dollars every year, we could also:
- Give people in 60,000 communities sliding-scale community centers with safe movement options that they can enjoy.
- Acquire 60,000 100-acre tracts suitable for sustainable farming - complete with barn, tractor, equipment, animals, seed.
- Buy a pair of good, supportive athletic shoes and a one year membership at a gym for every person in the United States.
- Spend $10.75 more on every school lunch. The federal government helps fund. Public schools currently spend about $1 for every school lunch so this could dramatically increase the quality of kids' food.
Instead of continuing to pour money into an industry that has been sued successfully for deceptive trade practices so many times that it is now required to have a disclaimer any time they suggest that their product might actually work - and that has a success rate that barely rivals the lottery - we could focus on healthy habits for ourselves and put our money into more fruitful directions. Just some food for thought.


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