business news in context, analysis with attitude

MSNBC reports on a new survey suggesting that seven out of 10 Americans who are trying to lose weight are doing so without a doctor’s assistance, and using self-designed diet programs.

One third of these consumers are using dietary supplements of one kind or another, most of them offering miracle cures without any scientific or medical basis, according to the University of Connecticut study. MSNBC writes, “Weight-loss products form an enormous industry, gobbling up a billion dollars a year…(and) nearly 15 percent of U.S. households bought such products at least once last year.”

According to the story, the sales of two popular categories along — over-the-counter appetite suppressants and diet-related meal replacements like shakes and bars — generated $322 million last year. And, there are tremendous misconceptions about many of the products that can be found on store shelves.

“About half of survey respondents incorrectly think supplements are approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration, and two-thirds believe such products must carry warning labels for side effects,” MSNBC writes. “Two-thirds think supplements are safe and effective, although the government requires no such proof before they are sold.”
KC's View:
“Never give a sucker an even break,” the late, great W.C. Fields once said, “or smarten up a chump.”

We know these products make money. But there’s a part of us that thinks retailers who want to be trusted and respected by consumers ought to be the line of defense against frauds and con men – which in a lot of ways is really all the people pushing useless diet products really are.

To quote another late, great comedian: “Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.” (Groucho Marx)