The Truth Behind Before/After Photos
Much of what entices you to buy a weight loss product is that you see another everyday person - not a celebrity, but someone like YOU! - who lost 180 lbs using this supplement. And the proof is right there! Before photo of them posing at the park, so you know its genuine, or maybe its on a backdrop and they look pale and unhappy. Your eyes wander to the right and you see a tanned, smiling, smaller version of the same person. That's what you want.
But is it a lie?
This post by Andrew Dixon at the Huffington Post gives an example of how companies can produce a series shot on the same person, in the same day, that looks like weight loss over months. From slouching to pushing the stomach out to sucking in, spray tans, and flexing, the same man (or woman) can look completely different. Check out one of his "transformation photos" below.
In fact, according to an expose done by the TODAY show, fake before-and-after photos make up some of the most frequent fraud cases reported to the Federal Trade Commission. They interview one woman, who posted personal photos of her 68 lb weight loss on her blog after a year of dieting and exercise, about how a weight loss tea company falsified quotes from her and used her photos without contacting her. Or they use stock photos for sale and then use Photoshop for "weight loss" (much like they do in almost every celebrity photo shoot).
Consequences of Weight Loss Supplements
Weight loss supplements fall into 3 categories. They either:
Well, stimulants raise your blood pressure and heart rate, increasing your risk of a heart attack. The FDA has received reports of death from cardiac arrest due to use of dietary stimulants.
Appetite suppressants may target your stomach or your brain to curb your hunger. Many stimulants are combined with appetite suppressant properties.
Fat inhibitors target your gut to prevent your body from absorbing fat from your food. Unfortunately, this means your fat enters your large intestine and stool, and it's not really supposed to be there. The results are foul smelling flatus and stool, as well as cramping and abdominal pain. It also inhibits the absorption of vitamins that are important for eye and skin health as well as vitamin D, which we have all heard of. These vitamins require fat to help get across your gut cells and into your blood.
Weight loss ads tempt even the best of us, as we are constantly bombarded by photoshopped images of near-perfect celebrities and models, telling us we are not pretty enough, thin enough, or ripped enough. And that's what they are designed to do, because then they will make a profit.
They are not in the business of taking care of you!
a blog about health, wellness, nutrition, and fitness from an epidemiologist / dietitian with personal trainer experience
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