1991 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 1991.

Worst Product: Bee Sweet Grapefruit Diet

Bee Sweet's bee pollen grapefruit pill tops the year's worst diet scams. It exploits the fallacy that bees, honey and bee-related products have mys-tical powers, a notion rooted in Greek mythology. Marketed to truck drivers via interstate truck stops, the pill combines pollen, grapefruit powder and glucomannan. The Food and Drug Administration says there is no evidence bee pollen gives any therapeutic benefit or that either grape-fruit pills or glucomannan are safe or effective for weight loss. Allergic reactions are real hazards.

Most Outrageous: Beneficial International Body Wrap

It is outrageous that in weight loss centers across the country women (primarily) are being wrapped toe to chin in plastic wrap to shrink their size. Promoters claim they will "lose 4 to 14 inches in one hour"; the catch being that 18 or more sites are totaled. Temporary squeezing may occur, but counselors insist the $40 weekly treatments give lasting results: body wrapping "mobilizes fat and cellulite and flushes it out of the body."

Worst Claim: Primary Plan Tablets

This product wins "worst claim" for its shameless targeting of new mothers at a vulnerable time in their lives. Primary Plan claims, "This Revolutionary Weight-loss Tablet Plan Can Enable New Mothers to Quickly lose 20-75 pounds." It contains two ingredients banned by FDA for diet pills—lecithin and caffeine from kola nut powder. Customers are led on to bogus nutritional analyses and useless supplements. The company uses the name National Insti-tute of Weight Control to give itself credibility.

Worst Gadget: Slender-Mist Appetite Spray

Designed to be sprayed in the mouth just before temptation strikes, Life Way's Appetite Spray (co-mar-keted by Spiegel catalog company) is a dainty, pencil-thin gadget that comes in four flavors. Caution: Chocolate spray may be a hazard for chocolate lovers—it's a fragrant reminder of the real thing. Ingredients arginine, lysine and phenylalanine are listed in the recent FDA ban.

Good News

The best news of 1991 is FDA's ban of 111 ingredients identified as not safe and effective for nonprescription weight control pills. Muting effects of the ban are already apparent in advertisements for herbal and "natural" food promotions.

This article was posted on December 22, 2008.

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