Fed Up with Weight-Loss Ads – The Catalyst
March 17, 2023 | Opinion | Beatrice Russell
I sat at the kitchen table, sipping too-sweet hazelnut coffee and eating a bowl of yogurt for breakfast, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. I like to believe that I have a healthy relationship with social media, a balance of being positive but not obsessive. However, there is one aspect of social media that I can't seem to escape: advertising. More specifically, weight loss ads.
While I'm wary of reporting them as “misleading” and “inappropriate” on Instagram, I can't avoid the plethora of programs/products that infiltrate my feed (pun intended) and purportedly help me “get better” and a “healthier” me.
Most of the time, I report them and keep scrolling. But, on this particular morning, while I was having coffee and yogurt, I stumbled upon an outrageous claim for a product that people could add to their drink to help with weight loss.
“I lost 80 lbs in 30 days!”
sorry, what? is it possible? I wondered, so I got out my calculator and did the math. Let me break down my findings: 1 pound equals 3,500 kcal (calories). To lose 80 pounds, someone must have a deficit of 280,000 calories in one month. Our basal metabolic rate is only about 2,000 calories per day (if not lower), so a person will naturally burn about 60,000 calories in these 30 days. This still leaves a deficit of 220,000 kcal. So someone would have to eat nothing and then burn an extra 7,333 calories per day to do this.
1 lb = 3,500 calories
(80 lbs) (3,500 kcal/lb) = 280,000 kcal
(30 days) (2,000 kcal/day) = 60,000 kcal
280,000 calories – 60,000 calories = 220,000 calories
(220,000 calories)/(30 days) = 7,333.333 calories/day
To say I was shocked would be an understatement. At first, I laughed.To be an effective ad, it must have at least Appear Like yes like no. Claiming something so unworkable is just a poor promotional choice.
But then I got mad.
I'm annoyed that this rate of weight loss is not only being described as possible, but celebrated. I admit that I have no professional education in the field of nutrition, but I know that is not the case.
Where weight loss is recommended, it should be: feasible, consistent, gradual, and follow (at least some) scientific logic. Healthy weight loss should be achieved through “healthy eating habits, regular physical activity, and a stress-management lifestyle,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Contrary to the idea that weight loss must be a quick and immediate process, the CDC states that “people who lose weight gradually and steadily (about one to two pounds per week) are more likely to keep it off.” Using these data, healthy weight loss The method will lose 5 to 10 pounds in 30 days instead of 80 pounds.
My argument here is not that weight loss is bad. Nor am I speaking against the actual product/program advertised. My problem is our society's desperate need for instant gratification. What scares me is the constant exposure to the idea that losing 80 pounds in 30 days is actually possible. If we continue to browse social media without checking the facts of these ads, we will start to see fiction as fact. Our expectations of weight loss products and products of all kinds will not be fulfilled.
Who are we to blame when these expectations are not met, when we don't lose 80 pounds in 30 days? ourselves. We work harder and harder to achieve what society tells us is possible but science tells us is impossible. I admit this instant gratification claim is backed up by a weight loss ad I saw over coffee and yogurt. However, I still urge you to take a good look at what you would normally scroll past. Observe it, analyze it, and question it.
In a world where technology is beginning to blur the lines between fact and fiction, I urge you to be skeptical.