‘Tis the season for new beginnings; a new year means a new you, right?
For many people, that’s the case. And they want to start with a new body.
“Going on a diet” regularly tops resolution lists at New Years, even for mega-celebrities.
Just look at Oprah, who once said “Inside every overweight woman is a woman she knows she can be…” in a commercial for Weight Watchers.
She now owns a 10% stake in the company and launched a new advertising campaign on December 29th.
And that’s good timing.
The diet “superbowl”
Weight Watchers North America president David Burwick calls the first week of January his company’s ‘Superbowl’. And the first few months of the year are their most profitable quarter.
But it’s not just diet behemoths like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig that cash in on the new year.
January means a barrage of advertisements for quirky new diets promising miracle changes.
Timeline: Diets Through the Decades
Evan Kelly works with the Better Business Bureau. Every year his organization receives complaints from people who have been scammed by lose weight quick schemes.
“Always be wary of very big claims that you can lose all this weight in such and such a time, or make these kinds of guarantees. This is one of those times if it seems to be good to be true, it definitely is.”
But sometimes there’s not a whole lot they can do about it.
“In a lot of these things, there’s going to be a tiny disclaimer at the bottom of the box or the packaging or the website. Oh, this product, results may vary of course, and it’s in conjunction with a healthy diet and moderate exercise. So it goes without saying that eating well and exercise is paramount to losing the weight as well. So it’s hard to say if these products are doing anything at all?”
More importantly, Even cautions anyone considering a paid dieting program to do their due diligence on themselves first.
“You’re talking about your health. So BBB always stands behind the idea of consulting your physician about losing weight. There might be some underlying problems that need to be looked at by an expert.”
So if we know that small, slow lifestyle changes are the best way to shed a few pounds, why are these quick fix schemes so profitable?
“Scammers are out there to prey on vulnerable groups like the elderly, immigrants, people with English as a second language,” says Evan, “people who want to lose weight are certainly would be considered a vulnerable group in our mind and so you just want to do your research before you embark on any of this stuff.”
Which brings us to the big question; is there a good diet?
Nicole Fetterly is a dietician who says the key to a healthier diet is to make slow, sustainable changes.
“Well, what’s important to me is giving people tips and changes they can make permanently or long term. And diets always feel like something that’s just a short-term fix, a band-aid solution.”
She says it’s all about sustaining healthy choices.
“You know some of those other diet trends – people are trying to do doing juice cleanses a lot, people are still going low carb – you just really want to be cautious about that because usually those things aren’t sustainable. So adding in one vegetable juice every morning can be a good thing, but not necessarily thinking that doing a 3 day cleanse will set you on the right track if you just go back to eating processed, refined foods after that.”
So this January, instead of embarking on a quick fix diet…take little steps over a longer period of time. Eat some vegetables. Exercise.
And if something seems too good to be true – it probably is.