Junkfood Science: Message to diet books authors: tell the truth

September 17, 2007

Message to diet books authors: tell the truth

The diet book industry is getting its first and long-overdo shake-up. The Federal Trade Commission has charged a diet book author with making false and unsubstantiated claims and violating a court order prohibiting him from further infomercials that misrepresent the contents of his book. According to Dr. Stephen Barrett, M.D., this is the first time in about fifty years that the FTC has attempted to stop a book promotion.

An overview of the FTC action, along with 115 pages of government documents going back years of criminal records and prior FTC actions, convictions and contempt citations, is available at Case Watch.

Dr. Barrett writes:

The Federal Trade Commission has charged Kevin Trudeau with violating a court order by allegedly misrepresenting the contents of his book, “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About,” in several infomercials. During the ads, Trudeau claims that the weight loss plan outlined in the book is easy to do, can be done at home, and ultimately allows readers to eat whatever they want. However, when consumers purchase the book, they find it describes a complex, grueling plan that requires severe dieting, daily injections of a prescription drug that consumers cannot easily get, and lifelong dietary restrictions.

Trudeau continues to insist that his book’s plan “permanently cures the condition of obesity,” with “no hunger…no exercise…and no surgery.” His book and infomercials are filled with conspiracy theories: “Amazingly, this medical breakthrough has been debunked, discredited, and suppressed by the American Medical Association, the Food and Drug Administration, and other medical establishments throughout the world.”

In case you’re wondering why the FTC has chosen this diet book to crack down on, you’ll want to look at FTC Exhibit 12. It’s a copy of most of the book — save your money and read about the diet for free.

Here is a run-down of just Phase 1 of the “Weight Loss Cure” diet regimen and its false claims (read only if you're not tempted to actually believe them):

· drink a large glass of water in the morning followed by 1/2 to 1 gallon of spring or reverse osmosis water (certain brands are recommended) every day;

· take 2 teaspoons of extra virgin raw coconut oil every day to stimulate the thyroid;

· regular colonics to remove toxins;

· eat a minimum of 2 organic apples and 2 organic grapefruit a day to release fat, regulate blood sugar and cleanse liver, gallbladder and colon;

· drink raw organic apple cider vinegar three times a day to stimulate the metabolism;

· take a dietary supplement to treat candida and drink an "insulin tea;"

· drink 1 cup each green tea, chamomile tea and yerba mate tea each day to stimulate cleansing of the cells and increase energy;

· take whole foods supplements, coral calcium and probiotics;

· take a chelation heavy metal cleanse;

· don’t eat after 6 pm;

· take acetyle L-Carnitine supplements to increase muscle;

· eat hot chile peppers to increase metabolism;

· eat cinnamon to stimulate hypothalamus and regulate blood sugar;

· no trans fats because they “absolutely 100% will make you obese [and] lead to heart disease, cancer, arthritis and diabetes;”

· no high fructose corn syrup or “man-made sweeteners” because they “overtax the hypothalamus and make you fat;”

· no artificial sweeteners because they make you fat;

· no monosodium glutamate (MSG) because it’s an excitotoxin;

· eat only organic meats and dairy because nonorganic products have hormones and drugs that lead to obesity;

· no nitrates because they cause hormonal imbalances;

· no farm-raised fish because they “live in cesspools of poison water;”

· no microwaving because it makes food unnatural and causes depression and hormonal imbalances that lead to weight gain;

· avoid carbonated drinks because they block calcium absorption and cause nutritional deficiencies;

· limit ice cold drinks because they slow metabolism and increase hunger;

· no fast food because it’s loaded with bad unhealthy ingredients;

· eat only 100% organic foods to avoid chemicals;

· use "healthier" natural sweeteners;

· sweat for 20 minutes a day in infrared saunas to detoxify the body and release fat cells;

· take krill oil supplements to live longer;

· take vitamin E for health benefits and aid in weight loss;

· take digestive enzymes with each meal;

· no lotions or creams because you'll absorb toxins;

· jump up and down once or twice a day to stimulate the lymphatic system for “almost miraculous physical and mental health benefits;”

· the more massages the better to speed up weight loss;

· use a shower filter to avoid contaminants;

· use an “electromagnetic chaos eliminatory” to remove invisible electromagnetic energy that leads to glandular abnormalities and contributes to obesity;

· reduce air conditioning;

· avoid fluorescent lights because they lead to food cravings;

· take a special dietary supplement for stress;

· use minimal salt and always sea salt or Himalayan salt;

· eat more fiber to dramatically speed up weight loss and remove toxins;

· upon completing phase one, do a parasite cleanse because virtually everyone has them and they are responsible for lots of health problems and do a liver cleanse;

· stop taking all nonprescription, over-the-counter and prescription drugs and medications because “every kind absolutely, 100% are proven to lead to weight gain and obesity...cause illness and disease. This is proven. No drug, not even aspirin is safe....”

Not only is this regimen dangerous and complicated, but every single claim is nutritional voodoo and goes against credible scientific evidence. And this was only the first part of the book! Phase 2 gets more frightening, with injections of human chorionic gonadotrophin (from the urine of pregnant women). He claims this 500-calorie a day diet improves health and he advises patients to find another doctor if their doctor tells them this diet is unsafe.

This book’s dietary advice and its descriptions of “healthy eating” are so outlandish when seen together, that readers may think it’s an exception. But it’s not. Look closer. It promotes many of the exact same beliefs about the causes of obesity, and beliefs about “bad” foods, that have tragically become popular and inundate mainstream media today.

Among the false claims about the causes of obesity listed in the book on pages 228 - 230 are:

· eating high calorie, large meals

· eating refined foods

· lack of walking

· clogged liver or colon

· candida overgrowth

· little or no enzymes in food

· nutritional deficiencies from a bad diet

· food cravings

· overeating disorder

· artificial sweeteners

· high fructose corn syrup and other refined sugars

· eating irradiated foods

· monosodium glutamate (MSG)

· nonorganic foods with pesticides and chemical additives

· antibiotics and hormones in meat and dairy

· trans fats

· GMOs

· homogenized and pasteurized dairy products

· heavy metal toxicity

· eating junk late at night

· exposure to electromagnetic frequencies from cell phones and wireless devices

· lack of dietary fiber

· skipping breakfast

· depression

· lack of exercise

· carbonated drinks

· “programming, mental triggers and brainwashing from food and restaurant advertisers”

· eating too many calories

· eating too many wheat products

· lack of raw fruits and vegetables

· fast food

· your thoughts

· and over three dozen more!

So many dietary beliefs about “good” and “bad” food are just that: beliefs and fears that have proven insupportable by the soundest nutritional science. There is no line that distinguishes most “legitimate,” best-selling diet books and the sham ones. So, while this book is one of the more extreme examples of those preying on people's fears over obesity and obsessions with healthy eating, it’s unsettling to see that, in the scheme of things, it’s really not all that extreme at all.

The FTC has made history this week by starting with this diet book. Starting. FTC, you’ve got only a few hundred thousand more to go!

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