This week on the All Fired Up! podcast I got totally ranty about a new online diet program called “The Number 1 Superfast Diet” which is being heavily promoted on tv and social media. It includes the good old ‘celebrity miracle weight loss story”, some sparkly science claims, and of course a super slick marketing campaign.
Thankfully, the world has people like Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian Fiona Willer in it, and for this week’s episode she brought her sleuthing skills, actual knowledge of science, and a fairly hefty dose of badly needed scepticism to this shameless sham of a diet.
Spoiler alert: it’s just not what it’s cracked up to be. Don’t get sucked into the super-FARCE diet!!
What really gets my goat is how the media are totally, utterly uncritical when it comes to weight loss claims. It seems like every single weight loss press release has some kind of amnesty from journalistic scrutiny.
This is what happens when an entire society has been drowned in diet culture – we lose the ability to think beyond the assumptions, to think critically, to question things. Even journalists – who are trained to think critically – simply can’t seem to do it!
It’s no secret that diets have an enormous failure rate. Most people on weight loss diets lose less than 5% of their total body weight, they overwhelmingly regain the weight they lost, and a good percentage of people end up heavier than they were before the diet. Even the big names in ‘obesity research’ acknowledge this fact: Dr Chris Fairburn, one of the world’s leading eating behaviour psychiatrists (and a pretty weight-biased researcher), has even said that it is “ethically questionable” to keep pursuing weight loss research.
So why then, is it legal to continue to release programs like the Superfast diet, knowing that they are pretty much guaranteed to NOT work for the vast majority of people?
If surgeons were selling an operation that failed >90% of the time….if car dealers sold cars that worked for a bit and then failed catastrophically …there would be an outcry, a ban, and a lot of surgeons and car manufacturers facing court.
Why is it different when it comes to selling diets?
It all comes back to weight bias: fatness is reviled and thinness is revered in diet culture. It’s SO hard to see beyond this that we are willing as a culture to turn a blind eye to the pointless suffering and enormous waste of time, energy and resources devoted to weight loss efforts, to literally SEE the failure rate and essentially say “well just keep trying”.
You know that Einstein quote – “the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result”.
So we must conclude – diet culture is quite, quite mad……!
I am so grateful for the growing community of people who have woken up and seen diet culture for what it is. I am heartened and full of hope whenever someone sends me a story of reason triumphing over the often hysterical, typically contradictory, and gaslighting world of weight loss worship.
Just this week I received a wonderful observation from someone who is currently learning to live UNTRAPPED. In a newsletter from his health insurer, there was an article praising how amazing weight loss is for your health. And he has helpfully provided us with a direct challenge to that – by describing what weight loss is ACTUALLY like, in the real world!
I LOVE this. THIS is what UNTRAPPED is all about: critically analysing the information we are being force fed from diet culture, measuring it up against our experience, common sense, and intuition, and pushing back! And total bonus points for creativity!
So this week I encourage you – to call something out – to push back, to protest, to disagree! Ask the diet peddlers some difficult questions! Demand to see the evidence for their claims! Push back from the crap!