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Top 10 Weight Loss Gimmicks of 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 Posted by Peter Janiszewski, PhD

Since the inception of Obesity Panacea just over a year ago, we have reviewed over 30 weight loss products – many of which fall clearly into the gimmick category. Given that we are nearing the end of the year, we thought we’d look back over the past year of Obesity Panacea product reviews and list our top 10 weight loss gimmicks of 2009. (Click each product link to read further).

In no particular order:

1. Acai Berry Products: Pills, juices, and potions containing the “magical” acai berry were the rage throughout the year. First, we reviewed one such product, AcaiBurn, which was marketed as a weight loss aid – we had our share of criticisms. Apparently, we were onto something as not that long afterwards, the Center for Science in the Public Interest released a consumer warning, stating:

“There's no evidence whatsoever to suggest that açai pills will help shed pounds, flatten tummies...”

2. Equmen Core Precision Undershirts: In essence, the Equmen core precision undershirts are the all-in-one solution for abdominal obesity, chronic back pain, and lack of athletic ability. That is, as long as you weren’t planning on breathing while wearing them!

3. The SMART device: While jaw wiring seems to have gone out of fashion as a treatment for excess weight, a new gadget entered the market which works in a similar way. The SMART (Sensor Monitored Alimentary Restriction Therapy) device is basically jaw wiring 2.0, or more accurately a retainer that while does nothing for your overbite will make eating less comfortable. Brilliant, right!?

4. The Shake Weight: This ridiculous gimmick was all the rage on YouTube, and even made appearances on daytime TV (The Ellen Show). Unfortunately, the attention the Shake Weight received was not due to the products effectiveness at sculpting your arms, but rather the hilarious commercial. Shortly after the release of the Shake Weight, the same company unveiled the Shake Weight for Men – complete with possibly the worst (or best, depending on how you look at it) commercial ever.

5. Powerpops: "Can you imagine... a lollipop with the amazing Power to Suppress the appetite and give you a burst of energy." So begins a brochure promoting Power-Pops, a lollipop which claims to reduce appetite, increase energy, and help you lose weight. Well, you might as well keep imagining!

6. Slender Shaper: The very first weight loss gimmick reviewed on Obesity Panacea. According to the manufacturer, the Slender Shaper is “revolutionary total body shaping equipment [which] actually does the exercise for you!” Unfortunately, the passive movement of subcutaneous fat accomplished by the vibrating Slender Shaper belt is unlikely to give much more than a rash.

7. Air Climber: The Air Climber isn't your grandmother's stepping machine - this stepping machine is powered by "Air Technology"! While the manufacturers suggest the Air Climber is “one of the most effective weight loss and body shaping programs ever”, it is actually roughly as effective (in relatively healthy, overweight men) as walking at a very leisurely pace. Wow!

8. The Chocolate Diet: A diet which allows you to lose weight while enjoying as much chocolate as you like - sounds tempting, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, there exists no evidence that chocolate promotes weight loss.

9. Leptothin: Every so often someone comes out with a treatment that "cures" leptin resistance. This is somewhat of a holy grail for obesity treatments. But, since absolutely no research suggests that LepToThin's active ingredient is associated with weight loss in humans, and since the makers of LepToThin have a poor understanding of basic physiology, this product doesn't seem like a likely cure for obesity.

10. Scala Bio-Fir Anti-Cellulite Pants: They may look like regular tights, but these contain crystals which heat up on contact with the skin. Magically, this heat is so small that you can't feel it, yet is somehow powerful enough to melt your fat cells, while causing no damage whatsoever to muscle or other cells. If for some reason you desperately want to have pants that cause your legs to heat up, we suggest a nice pair of snow pants, which have been keeping us Canadians warm for centuries.

Vote for your pick for worst weight-loss gimmick of the year on the right hand side of the screen (email subscribers must log onto the site to vote).

If this list of dubious weight-loss products has gotten you down, fret not. There do exist products and resources (no magic potions or quick fixes, I’m afraid) that we recommend that can actually help you attain your health, fitness, and weight loss goals (click here to browse).

Happy Holidays,


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7 Response to "Top 10 Weight Loss Gimmicks of 2009"

  1. Weight Loss Coach Jon Said,

    It amazes me the amount of weight loss gimmicks that come out every year that simply pry on people's obsession with find that "magic pill" that will help them instantly lose weight.

    Great post, I shared it with my readers here:

    Posted on December 23, 2009 at 11:20 AM

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

    @ Weight Loss Coach Jon Thanks for the positive comment and for spreading the post with your readers - much appreciated!

    Have you come across any weight-loss this past year that we did not list or haven't reviewed this year? Plese let us know, as we're always looking for new products to review for our readers - especially if these products can actually be helpful.

    Posted on December 23, 2009 at 11:45 AM

  3. Weight Loss Coach Jon Said,

    I think your list is pretty good. The whole Acai Berry scam is by far my biggest pet peeve of the year and you hit that one right on the head

    Posted on December 23, 2009 at 11:51 AM

  4. Anonymous Said,

    I love year end “Top 10” lists. There is something comforting about being able to summarize and simplify a chaotic mass of information into a nice bite size memory for future reference. However, I would have preferred if the list was ranked from least to worst offensive. I would have to agree with “Weight Loss Coach John”, Acai Berry remedies would have to be the biggest sham of the year based on having the least plausible mechanism and the most money “stolen” from the public.


    Posted on December 23, 2009 at 2:23 PM

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

    @ Steve - Thanks for the comment. I am hoping enough people vote for the worst gimmick of the year - this will give us a good idea what our readers think is the least-most offensive product out there. I tend to agree that acai berry products should take the prize for the year - due to the huge publicity, rampant advertising, and likely ridiculous sales. Regarding plausible mechanisms - I'd argue that things like the Slender Shaper or the Anti-Cellulite pants are even more far-fetched. But in the end, we're talking slightly different shades of stupidity:)

    Posted on December 23, 2009 at 3:40 PM

  6. Anonymous Said,

    Hello!!! I´m an açai berry lover...and being a brazilian that lives in the amazon region, I would like to leave a message: Maybe it´s good idea to ask native consumers of a particular fruit and it´s nutrients. Açai is consumed mainly because of it´s ("iron" I´m not sure it that´s the right term)concentration and it´s definately not used for weight loss.

    Posted on December 24, 2009 at 2:57 PM

  7. Eiskrystal Said,

    I have never understood why people don't notice the blindingly obvious. If you have to pop a magic pill or do a diet to get thin, you will have to pop the pill or be permanently on the diet to stay thin.
    What a horrible thought.

    Posted on December 30, 2009 at 6:39 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.


The opinions expressed here belong only to Peter and Travis and do not reflect the views of any organization. Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.

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