Tag Archives: Santa

Santa Brings Coal for Snake Oil Salesmen: FTC and BMJ Call BS on Sensa, The Doctors and Doctor Oz

Call it a holiday gift.  This week I’ve come across TWO scathing reprimands of bogus weight loss profiteering and frankly it fills me with holiday glee.

First, I learned that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have sent refund checks totaling over $26 Million to people who bought the “weight-loss supplement” known as Sensa.  I remember the first time I saw this dubious substance.  A friend of mine smiled gleefully as she sprinkled this “magic powder” on her food.  “It will make me skinny!” she said.  “All I do is sprinkle this on my food and I will eat less and lose weight!”  I frankly could not imagine how this powder, purchased at Target would help her eat less.  Perhaps, I thought, if it made the food taste really bad, you know like that substance you paint on your nails to keep from biting them?

But Sensa advertising suggested another mechanism for their magic powder.  The advertising suggested that Sensa enhanced the taste and smell of the food, thus making eaters enjoy the food more, thus allowing them to feel full faster and stop eating sooner.  And then, they lose weight.

“Huh.  That’s a neat trick,” I thought.

Turns out the FTC thinks my skepticism was warranted.  The FTC complaint states that the manufacturers of Sensa provided no credible scientific evidence for the weight loss claims for Sensa.  In addition, the complaint states that Sensa’s manufacturers failed to disclose that they paid customers to endorse the product and that they doctored up a supposedly independent study.

And speaking of doctors, that leads me to my second early holiday gift.  A study recently released in the British Medical Journal calls out US television shows The Doctors and The Doctor Oz Show for spreading bogus and sometimes downright dangerous health information.  This is yet another crushing blow for Dr. Oz, who actually spent time in front of a Congressional committee explaining why he felt it was okay to tell the American public for instance, that green coffee beans would make them skinny.  He was asked to explain his various Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir-like substances that served as medical miracles that simply melted the fat away.

The British Medical Journal study called out the antics of these modern snake-oil salesmen, suggesting that roughly half of the medical advice offered on The Doctors and The Doctor Oz Show was either not supported by medical science or directly contradicted by prevailing scientific evidence.

The study abstract states:

We could find at least a case study or better evidence to support 54% (95% confidence interval 47% to 62%) of the 160 recommendations (80 from each show). For recommendations in The Dr Oz Show, evidence supported 46%, contradicted 15%, and was not found for 39%. For recommendations in The Doctors, evidence supported 63%, contradicted 14%, and was not found for 24%. Believable or somewhat believable evidence supported 33% of the recommendations on The Dr Oz Show and 53% on The Doctors.

The study also explains that this is significant for US healthcare because “television is one of the most important mass media sources of health information.”  It notes that The Dr. Oz Show with it’s position as one of the top 5 American talk shows has the reach to do a whole lot of good.  Unfortunately, Dr. Oz frequently peddles bogus weight loss cures and consistently fails to provide any information regarding conflict of interest.  So, yeah.  Snake oil salesmen are having a rough week.

To be clear, the thing I’m taking out of this as my holiday gift is not that the Snake Oil Salesmen–Purveyors of Powders and Magic Beans exist or that they are so very good at their jobs.  I am simply doing a little holiday dance of glee on the multimillion dollar payout and credible medical journal smackdown these guys are receiving right now.  Just a little coal in their holiday stockings. Ho. Ho. HO!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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5 Reasons Santa is a Healthy Role Model

Three Santa's for one.  Perfect for animating.

Yep, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  All the weight loss companies that sell all the things are lining up at the door and chomping at the bit to hop on the New Years Resolution gravy train.  And in the great tradition of American holidays being celebrated earlier and earlier (with the Christmas season now starting around Labor Day) some folks are determined to start celebrating the annual fat bashing holiday during Christmas.  And one way they are doing this, I’m sad to say, is bashing Santa for being fat.

Every year now, as sure as ugly holiday sweaters and crabby Christmas relatives we are getting media reports that Santa is a bad role model for our children because he is (cue dramatic music) morbidly obese.  And every year now, this makes me CRAZY.  Now if you’re wanting links to these horrible articles, I ain’t gonna post ’em.  You can just google that nonsense if you want to know.  No, this year, I’m going to focus on why Santa is a good role model for health, and I’m gonna post it right here.  So here I go:

Five Reasons Santa is a Good Role Model for Health

Santa-Exercising1.  That Boy is Fit!  Talk about cardio.  The guy delivers presents to every kid in the world in one night!  He delivers to over 2 billion kids in one evening which must make it close to a billion chimneys that he’s going up and down.  And the whole time he’s carrying a massive sack of toys.  I mean his naughty nice book alone weighs over 3 Tons!  That’s gotta count as resistance training, right?  I would argue that in order to pull this off, Santa’s functional fitness must be truly impressive.

2.  He gets plenty of rest.  Sure, he’s got his workshop to manage, but outside of that, the guy essentially gets over 360 days per year off from work.  That’s a lot of time to read, do a little yoga and check out some progressive relaxation CDs, right? Most of us are deeply stressed either from long work hours or insufficient funds or both.  Santa is modeling that plenty of rest helps lead to a long productive life.

3.  He is vibrant in his later years.  Many accounts put good ‘ol St. Nick at over 1,000 years old, yet he’s still not retired.  Santa has a full life including regular television appearances, marching in annual parades and showing up at malls all around the world.  Can you show me one other health and fitness guru today who is rocking it out after living for a millennium?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.

4.  He has a strong social network.  As possibly one of the most popular guys in human history, Mr. Claus has a lot of friends.  He’s got his maximum 5,000 friends on facebook (stupid friends limit).  And when it comes to correspondence, Santa still kicks it old school.  The guy gets over 500,000 letters per year.  (Again there is some serious resistance training involved with simply emptying his north pole mailbox each day).  Plus he’s got the elves, and a marriage that has endured for over 150 years (possibly because they have never appeared on a talk show together).


5.  Santa has a positive outlook on life and healthy self esteem.  As a worldwide celebrity, Santa seems confident enough to rock his signature look year after year without a stylist or even shopping for new clothes.  He also seems to be genuinely happy with himself and with his lot in life.  He is well known for his hearty laugh and can often be seen literally shaking with mirth.  Despite a few truly misguided rumors, Santa has never advocated for a diet or weight loss plan.  He eats a lot and exercises a lot and loves a lot.  And all of that seems to be working out pretty well for him, all things considered.

So what lessons can we take home from this jolly old elf?  I would say the lessons are these:

1.  Do what you love to do and do it well.

2.  Exercise regularly.

3. Work hard, but get plenty of rest.

4. A life focused on giving is filled with joy.

5. When you find your signature look, just rock it out!

6. You’re never too old to have fun.

7.  Take time for your friends.

8. Love yourself just the way you are.

9. Diets don’t work.  And besides, nobody likes  a skinny Santa.

10.  Just relax and enjoy the holiday season!

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. If you’d like some more hints about loving your body, I’m giving away a free present “5 Things You Can do To Love Your Body Right Now” to everybody on my “list”.  If you’re not already a member, you can join my list right here.  And in case you missed it, I talked all about body image on the Katie Couric show yesterday.  Here’s a link, and here’s another one.  Oh and don’t forget to send your photos and new year’s resolutions to me by December 30 so you can be a part of the 2014 New Year’s video!