Author: Lose weight with these products? Slim chance!

Do you overeat because your Chi is misaligned? Want to lose weight fast by sweeping magnets across your acupressure points? Or maybe you’d rather stock up on pills that contain the possibly deadly ingredient ephedra?

Those are just a few of the weight loss schemes highlighted by Frances Berg, author of the new book Underage & Overweight (Healthy Living Books, $25), in the 15th annual “Slim Chance Awards.” “There are countless products out there that promise quick weight loss with no effort,” she says. “Most of them are complete scams that make your wallet thinner, but not the rest of you.”

It’s not just adults who fall prey to these scams. “We’ve been seeing an increasing number of children and adolescents, especially teen-age girls, trying all sorts of weight loss products,” says Berg. “This is especially disturbing because many of these products can be harmful to your health, and anything that is harmful to an adult’s body is even more so to a child’s.”

Berg, whose new book includes a seven-point plan for raising healthy weight children, offers this advice to parents who fear their child may be trying to lose weight using dangerous weight loss products: “The key to raising a healthy weight child is leading by example,” she says. “Instead of focusing on weight loss, which might lead the child to such drastic measures as trying these potentially deadly products, try to model healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle.”

Berg’s organization, the Healthy Weight Network, started the Slim Chance Awards 15 years ago as a reaction to the glut of unsafe products on the market. They’re part of the lead-up to “Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day” during Healthy Weight Week, which falls Jan. 18 – 24. The National Council Against Health Fraud, for which Berg is coordinator of the Weight Loss Abuse task force, co-sponsors the awards.

“We want to help people move their focus forward from this constant struggle with unsafe and ineffective weight loss to improving their health in positive ways,” says Berg.

Here are the 15th Annual Slim Chance Awards from the “worst” of last year’s weight loss crop:

Worst product: Metabadrine

Cashing in on the fact that state laws were shutting out ephedra, and major manufacturers pulling it from their weight loss products, the makers of Metabadrine continued to use it as a selling point. “Ephedra is not a dirty word here,” advertisements said of the dangerous additive, which was finally banned nationwide in December.

Worst claims: Body Solutions Evening Weight Loss Formula

No fewer than 678 popular personalities on 755 radio stations deceived their listeners with personal testimony and false claims about this product. The Federal Trade Commission reached a $1 million settlement with the company in December, which it announced along with its new guidelines for the media and consumers to recognize weight loss scams.

Most outrageous: Himalayan Diet Breakthrough

Ads claim that this ultra-fast acting formula combines a miracle mineral from the Himalayan Mountains with seven other highly unusual, hard-to-find ingredients.

They say that this combination makes each even more effective at producing high-speed weight loss. Outrageous claims include “Burns more fat than running 98 miles per week!”

Worst gimmick: Magnaslim

This gimmick claims to combine magnets and accupressure in a way that penetrates every cell, realigning incorrectly positioned ions to reduce appetite and stressful eating. Acupressure has been a favorite gimmick of weight loss promoters for years, usually zeroing in on a jazzy item that presses on so-called “appetite centers” on ears or wrists.

Frances Berg is an internationally known authority on weight and eating. She is a licensed nutritionist, family wellness specialist, adjunct professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, and author of 11 books. Her new book, Underage and Overweight: America’s Childhood Obesity Crisis—What Every Family Needs to Know, explores the complex issues of weight and eating, and includes a seven-step plan for raising healthy-weight children.

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