Quackwatch Home Page
1998 Slim Chance Awards
Each January, Frances M. Berg, M.S., editor of Healthy
Weight Journal, presents "Slim Chance Awards" to
promoters of weight-loss schemes. Here are the awards for 1998.
- Worst Product: DHEA - Lifestyle
- The search for the Fountain of Youth is now ended, along
with discovery of this new, easy way to lose body fat, claim
quack promoters of the hormone DHEA (dehydroepian-drosterone).
But to affect weight, if indeed this much-maligned hormone could,
would require doses so high they would have harmful side effects,
experts warn. Although the source of DHEA is animal, supplement
promoters claim to have discovered a "natural precursor"
in the wild yam of China and Japan. DHEA is heavily advertised
in herbal catalogs, health food stores, and on the internet in
the usual quack locations. Lifestyle's DHEA Cream Gel is applied
to "pulse points" such as back of the wrist, throat
and inner thigh, from where "It's absorbed directly into
the blood stream!" $29.95 from Lifestyle Fascination, Lakewood,
- Most Outrageous: Phena-Drene/MD
- It's the most outrageous claim we've seen - that this pill
turns fat to water. Phena-Drene/MD's Midas touch "turns
ugly fat into harmless water. . . and flows it right out of your
body by the gallon!" Supposedly it works so fast you'll
shrink a full size in 24 hours, four sizes in two weeks, lose
up to 10 inches off your waist, 6 inches off your thighs, 6 inches
off your buttocks, 8 inches off your stomach. "Your very
first capsule will start to melt down fat just like hot water
melts down ice." And there's a litany of "medical school
proof" from "California Medical School," "London
University," and the promoters' own offices at the "U.S.
Obesity Research Center" in Palm Harbor, Florida.
- Worst Claim: Herbal Cleansing & Detox Program
- There's an elaborate hoax gaining ground with quacks and
their victims today: the human body is so filled with toxins
that it needs to be detoxified or cleansed regularly to avoid
illness. Thus the clever con artist has invented a problem for
which he/she just happens to have the solution. The Herbal Cleansing
& Detox Program by Botanic Gardens of Hammond, Indiana, advises
a regimen of fasting, special tea and herbal tablets. Claimed
benefits include weight control and improved immune system, as
well as feeling "younger, better, healthier and happier."
- Worst Gadget: Elysee Body Toner Belt
- The latest in battery-operated, passive exercise belts, this
one is claimed to contract your muscles 300 times a minute, a
"total workout" touted to reduce sagging and "cellulite."
The belt's four pads supposedly deliver only gentle shocks that
promote this muscle contraction. But as you turn the dial up
so it can be felt, you get a nasty shock where you least expect
it - right on your "protruding tummy, sagging breasts, or
drooping buns." Sold from Sunday newspaper inserts and full-page
magazine ads. Health Direct, New York, New York.
For Additional Information
- More Slim Chance Awards: 1997
||| 1999 ||| 2000
- Quackwatch Home Page
- This article was posted on January