False beliefs about weight loss products are actually contributing to the obesity problem.
While the sales of these product rocket, obesity is also on the rise.
Now researchers have found that the weight loss remedies are undermining consumer motivation to shift extra pounds.
“Weight management remedies that promise to reduce the risks of being overweight may undermine consumer motivation to engage in health-supportive behaviors,” say the researchers.
“Put simply, why put effort into living a healthy lifestyle when a weight management remedy can take care of the problem?”
Study participants were each given free access to a bowl of chocolate cookies.
One group, however was told they could also take a new, powerful fat fighting pill.
The group that had been told about the magic pill ate significantly more cookies – some of them eating as many as 30.
An additional test showed that the more fattening the cookie, the more the participants would overeat, as long as they expected to be able to take the weight loss pill.
The study warns that the very people who need to reduce weight are desperately seeking weight loss pills instead of turning to a more healthy lifestyle.
When they buy the weight loss products they are then most likely to dangerously increase the amount of unhealthy foods they eat.
The upside of the study found that encouraging consumers to look beyond the marketing and find real information about a drug was very effective in reducing their false expectations and unhealthy behavior.
They felt a similar strategy could be used in other areas, for example for consumers who fall prey to “quick fix” financial remedies.
“Given the ubiquity of remedies in today’s marketplace, more research is needed to understand the impact of remedy marketing on consumers. T
“here is ample room for policy makers and responsible marketers to improve remedy marketing practices to minimize potentially harmful consequences for consumers,” the authors conclude.
The study is published in the Journal of Public Policy and marketing.