Every year, people spend good money after bad on so-called weight management products – so much so that it is $14 billion global market. Many of these products make specious claims, including fat burning, appetite suppression, and increased energy. However, as most consumers come to find out, the advertisements are usually far better than the reality.
In a recent Bloomberg Business Week article, it was reported that the Federal Trade Commission reached a $26.5 million settlement with Sensa, who produce and market a relatively new appetite suppressant. According to Sensa, their product helped subjects in clinical trials lose an average of 30 pounds in 6 months. They also claimed that people who used Sensa lost weight without diet and exercise. These are just a couple of the claims that the FTC took issue with.
While promises of fast, easy weight loss are always easy to sell, an old adage comes to mind: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In the medical profession, as researchers and physicians, we are always skeptical of easy promises of weight loss. Human physiology is complex, but the way the body stores and uses energy is fairly well understood. As any doctor will tell you, the keys to lasting weight loss are maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Simple lifestyle changes like these will help you look better and will also make you healthier, something that products like Sensa never even try to promise.
The truth is that eating healthier and exercising are usually far less expensive than these weight-loss products anyway, even with the cost of gym memberships and health food. However, we also recognize that even healthy people are sometimes unhappy with their appearance. If diet and exercise fail to deliver the results you want, simple procedures like liposuction can help you get rid of stubborn problem areas. Or, if you are able to achieve major weight loss, you still may want to undergo a procedure like a tummy tuck, which treats the excess skin that no amount of exercise will get rid of. The difference between cosmetic procedures like these and products like Sensa is that cosmetic procedures deliver visible, verifiable results.