1997 Slim Chance Awards

Each year, Frances M. Berg, M.S., who operates the Healthy Weight Network presents "Slim Chance Awards" to promoters of weight-loss schemes. Here are the awards for 1988:.

Worst Product: LifeStyle DHEA

The search for the Fountain of Youth is now ended, along with discovery of this new, easy way to lose body fat, claim quack promoters of the hormone DHEA (dehydroepian-drosterone). But to affect weight, if indeed this much-maligned hormone could, would require doses so high they would have harmful side effects, experts warn. Although the source of DHEA is animal, supplement promoters claim to have discovered a "natural precursor" in the wild yam of China and Japan. DHEA is heavily advertised in herbal catalogs, health food stores, and on the internet in the usual quack locations. Lifestyle's DHEA Cream Gel is applied to "pulse points" such as back of the wrist, throat and inner thigh, from where "It's absorbed directly into the blood stream!" $29.95 from Lifestyle Fascination, Lakewood, New Jersey.

Most Outrageous: Phena-Drene/MD

It's the most outrageous claim we've seen - that this pill turns fat to water. Phena-Drene/MD's Midas touch "turns ugly fat into harmless water. . . and flows it right out of your body by the gallon!" Supposedly it works so fast you'll shrink a full size in 24 hours, four sizes in two weeks, lose up to 10 inches off your waist, 6 inches off your thighs, 6 inches off your buttocks, 8 inches off your stomach. "Your very first capsule will start to melt down fat just like hot water melts down ice." And there's a litany of "medical school proof" from "California Medical School," "London University," and the promoters' own offices at the "U.S. Obesity Research Center" in Palm Harbor, Florida.
 
Worst Claim: Herbal Cleansing & Detox Program
 
There's an elaborate hoax gaining ground with quacks and their victims today: the human body is so filled with toxins that it needs to be detoxified or cleansed regularly to avoid illness. Thus the clever con artist has invented a problem for which he/she just happens to have the solution. The Herbal Cleansing & Detox Program by Botanic Gardens of Hammond, Indiana, advises a regimen of fasting, special tea and herbal tablets. Claimed benefits include weight control and improved immune system, as well as feeling "younger, better, healthier and happier." Cost $29.90.
 
Worst Gadget: Elysee Body Toner Belt
 
The latest in battery-operated, passive exercise belts, this one is claimed to contract your muscles 300 times a minute, a "total workout" touted to reduce sagging and "cellulite." The belt's four pads supposedly deliver only gentle shocks that promote this muscle contraction. But as you turn the dial up so it can be felt, you get a nasty shock where you least expect it - right on your "protruding tummy, sagging breasts, or drooping buns." Sold from Sunday newspaper inserts and full-page magazine ads. Health Direct, New York, New York.

This article was posted on December 22, 2008.

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