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The Slender Shaper: Another Fat Loss Gimmick?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008 Posted by Peter Janiszewski, PhD
As an obesity researcher, there is nothing that makes the blood boil more than an infomercial pedaling another fat-loss gimmick. The ridiculous claims made on such adverts have ruined many of my weekend mornings and were actually the impetus behind the development of this blog.


While eating my oatmeal and channel surfing on a fine Saturday morning, it took mere minutes before I was transfixed – jotting down notes on a pad of paper while enduring the mental torture of the 1 hour Slender Shaper infomercial (segments of which you can watch here). In short, according to the manufacturer, the Slender Shaper is “revolutionary total body shaping equipment [which] actually does the exercise for you!” It does the exercise for you - imagine that!


My first issue with the Slender Shaper ad is in the use of the word revolutionary – a malapropism if I ever saw one. Indeed, as pictured below, this sort of nonsense was all the rage back in the 1950 when the field of physiology and the understanding of energy metabolism were rather primitive.



My second issue with this product is regarding the various claims made in reference to its efficacy. According to the manufacturer, the Slender Shaper “helps 'melt' away unwanted fat and build muscles without exercising.” First of all, contrary to this statement and the computer generated video in the ad, fat does not “melt away”, but rather individual adipose cells reduce in size (but not number) by liberating their stores of triglycerides in the form of glycerol and free-fatty acids - a process called lipolysis. These liberated products are then used to provide energy for the metabolic machinery of one tissue or another.

Secondly, the only way to actually reduce the amount of fat tissue one carries is through a caloric deficit – as induced by either decreasing food intake or increasing energy expenditure. Given that the passive movement of subcutaneous fat accomplished by the Slender Shaper is just that – passive (not requiring any actual muscle activity), it is unlikely to lead to significant energy expenditure – a prerequisite for fat loss.

Thirdly, the claim that this will somehow lead to building muscle really boggles the mind. Muscles are stimulated to hypertrophy in response to overloading – as is done in resistance training with weights, elastic bands, calisthenics, and others. Even if the muscles are mildly engaged in an antagonistic manner to oppose the vibration of the Slender Shaper, this stimulus would be so small to have little chance of actually building any muscle.

Finally, the notion that irks me the most is the acid-coating or blatant truth-bending of the information on established modes of exercise. First, the infomercial instructs the na├»ve viewer: “Forget about painful situps!” For one, if situps are painful – you are likely not doing them right, so please seek advice. Two, if you want to strengthen your abdominal muscles, the crunch is the most rudimentary and most effective exercise for the cause.

Also, did you know that the Slender Shaper is 17-times more effective at working the abs as is running on a treadmill!? Well, maybe not exactly…This provocative statement is based on a rather invalid test – comparing the movements tracked by an accelerometer attached to a machine which vibrates at some crazy frequency while the person wearing it stands by idly (Slender Shaper) versus that recorded by an accelerometer attached to the waistline of a man running on a treadmill. Although the misplaced accelerometer may have recorded more movement when attached to the vibrating Slender Shaper, who do you think expended more calories – the man running on a treadmill or the girl standing?

Nevertheless, if you are undeterred by logic and you want to get the “healthy and sexy body” as promised by using the Slender Shaper for just 10 minutes a day, please place an order here. Otherwise, you can follow the following revolutionary fat-loss system as recently pioneered by scientists: eat less and move more.



UPDATE: Read about The Shopping Channel's attempt to peddle the Slender Shaper System here.


Peter

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7 Response to "The Slender Shaper: Another Fat Loss Gimmick?"

  1. Katie F Said,

    My dear friend Peter. I can't tell you how happy I am to hear my thoughts on weight loss gimics sprayed on this blog in a much more elaborate and well thought out way then I could ever articulate. You have won me over, I have subscribed, and I hope you two will still work on your PhD's in that small room in the basement of the PEC whilst updating this funny and true "obesity panacea".

    As an idea for your next Saturday morning research session, I am thoroughly interested in people's fascination with fat burners and diet pills. Amazing how we promote healthy eating and physical activity as a means to obtain/maintain a healthy weight.. and I emphasize HEALTHY.. and people will pop pills that have been shown to: a) screw up their metabolism so that when they actually return to a normal diet they are worse off then before; b) cause massive spikes in heart rate and mainly other messy side effectsl; and c) can KILL YOU.

    Just another thing to ponder in a society built on consumerism and quick fixes with people always looking for the solution...when the solution is usually before our eyes: live like we did back in the good old days..let our kids play outside..crime rates are actually lower now then ever, try walking to the corner store instead of driving, mow your own damn lawn, vacuum your own damn house, walk your own damn dog, try cooking and not "driving through"...and the "I don't have time to do Physical Activity" excuse doesn't really fly when the average North American watches atleast three hours of TV a day...
    Food For Thought :)

    Katie F.. MSc in trying to get people off the couch...

    Posted on November 12, 2008 at 2:38 PM

     
  2. farahmd Said,

    Thank you Peter for enlightening us about this product. For a split second I was contemplating on purchasing this product but after reading your article I can definitely say that I will continue doing my situps night and day and exercise to lead a healthy life.

    Thanks again Peter and Happy Holidays and all the best for the New Year!

    Farah

    Posted on December 21, 2008 at 5:05 PM

     
  3. Anonymous Said,

    Peter, I was Just curious if your opinion of this product was formed through your own personal experience with it?

    Posted on June 6, 2009 at 2:53 AM

     
  4. Peter Janiszewski, PhD (Cand.), MSc Said,

    @ Anonymous:

    Given that:
    1)The is absolutely NO evidence to suggest the Slender Shaper could work
    2)As a graduate student, I don't have any excess money to waste

    - I have not personally tried the Slender Shaper.

    If anyone would like to donate the $120, I would be more than happy to perform a personal case study on the Slender Shaper. Please contact me via email using the "Email The Author" link under the post.

    Posted on June 8, 2009 at 10:13 PM

     
  5. Lala Said,

    HAHA lipolysis! classic! yeah, the muscle contraction thing is insignificant, but what if the belt worked by stimulating flow in your blood and lymphatic vessels? it might not burn the calories, but it would probably increase the flow of everything. nonetheless, passive or not - triggered by a nerve impulse or by a machine, the muscles are still being flexed/contracted, regardless how minimal. and muscle contraction is due to ATP expenditure, so you are using up energy by putting on that belt - but yes, it's an insignificant amount - not enough for losing weight. it might not help that much for muscle toning either, but it would help for skin elasticity - shrinking that excess skin. also, i think when they say "melt" the fat away, i'm sure they're just using that as a saying - because what do people think of when someone says "fat"? people think butter, and butter MELTS. and who says crunches are not painful? if they're not painful, you need to increase your intensity, unless you've maxed out on your washboard abs, in which case, congrats.

    Posted on June 9, 2009 at 7:18 AM

     
  6. Lala Said,

    oh right. they're saying their power belt is "revolutionary" because the vibrations are faster and more intense.

    Posted on June 9, 2009 at 7:20 AM

     
  7. Anonymous Said,

    but it's pretty and gimmicky. I can't not work.

    Posted on January 14, 2010 at 8:56 AM

     

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We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.

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