“Lose 30 Pounds in 30 Days,” Weight Loss Hype – Part 2


The Snake Oil Salesman

The snake oil salesman became a stock character in Western movies: a traveling “doctor” with dubious credentials, selling some medicine (such as snake oil) with boisterous marketing hype, often supported by pseudo-scientific evidence, typically bogus. To enhance sales, an accomplice in the crowd would often “attest” the value of the product in an effort to provoke buying enthusiasm. The “doctor” would prudently leave town before his customers realized that they had been cheated.

Today, calling someone a snake oil salesman may be another way of saying that the person is particularly good at selling worthless items. There is something smarmy and untrustworthy about the snake oil salesman. Sometimes in the US, all homeopathic remedies are dismissed as “snake oil,” which is a generalization. Some non-traditional remedies are helpful and do have value. However, a large portion of the supplements out there are not much more than modern day “snake oil.”

Before and After

Have you ever seen an add that had a before and after picture that was taunting the benefits of some supplement designed to get rid of fat stores? Of course, But, have you ever noticed one where the person featured just looked too much like a model? And, the before and after pictures are closely timed, like 30, 60, 90 days. Here is what’s going on: the person is a hired model who was already in shape, and they were paid to get out of, and then back in shape again. Or, they are competitive in the World of Fitness and the “before” picture was taken during a downtime from competition. In any event, it’s misleading, and it’s common place.


The reality is, these spokespeople may have taken the touted supplement (just for some sort of authenticity in advertising), but the real gains (and losses in terms of fat) came from hard work (exercise) and healthy, clean eating (diet). And I don’t mean “diet” in the way most people interpret that word. I mean it to say that a person has a generally healthy manner of eating, i.e. lifestyle. The word diet has come to be associated with something that is temporary for a short term purpose. And, it’s associated with deprivation.

The truth is, anyone who makes a substantially noticeable change did it through hard work. These ads are trying to play on the “quick fix” mentally that we humans naturally have and that has been perpetuated by “McCiety.” No, not a grammatically error. McCiety is a term used to define our current culture (an obvious pun on our fast food addiction). We’ve been conditioned to believe that we can have everything we want now. The advent of computers, faxes, cell phones, the Internet, the MacDonald’s drive thru, ect., have fed into this collective fast paced neurosis. We’ve come to believe that it’s part of our inalienable rights, and not just an added benefit of societal progress. And, at the very least, if we can’t get it today, FedEx will deliver it tomorrow.