Candy From Strangers: A Wise Weight Loss Strategy?

Why these new diet lollipops creep us out

This just in from the Department of Wrong on Every Level:

Sisel SlenderPOPS are "The NEW Sensational Rapid Weight Loss Candy!" or so says the press release I received yesterday. (Confidential to the diet scam industry: The more capital letters and exclamation points you use in your ads, the less I believe your claims.

These lollipops promise to help suppress your appetite if you eat one before every meal and snack. And if you also cut calories and exercise more, you'll enjoy "a SWEET way to lose weight!" Translation: Eating less and moving more are doing all the heavy lifting there. But you also get to shell out $28 for a SlenderPOP variety pack, which appears to contain four lollipops, (aka a one-day supply). Maybe you're better off buying the 10-pack for $260, which will keep you in lollipops for ... about two weeks.

Of course, none of the marketing copy mentions how much weight you might expect to lose or how long it will take to lose it. But did we mention that they come in grape? 

And it gets better. The reason SlenderPOPS can make these vague but excitable weight loss claims is that they contain hoodia, a substance extracted from cactuses in the Sahara dessert. Hoodia is marketed as a weight loss supplement, although the National Institutes of Health warn that it's safety and effectiveness are unknown due to lack of scientific research. They also note that "some products sold as hoodia do not contain any hoodia." Which might be a good thing because one of the best-selling brands of hoodia weight loss supplements had to issue a recall in 2009 after the Food & Drug Administration received 23 reports of supplement users suffering from liver problems.

SlenderPOPs has a solution for that of course: "While ingesting Hoodia in a capsule was not very effective, sucking on it seems to be the key." You know, like how you suck on a lollipop! Isn't that handy? 

But if the overuse of exclamation points and sketchy safety data hasn't turned you off completely consider this: Last month, the FDA warned consumers to stay away from all weight loss supplements because they don't live up to their claims --  and because federal regulators found dozens of such products contaminated with prescription drugs and other dangerous substances.

I don't know if I'm most irritated that unregulated, ineffectual weight loss products like these keep coming on the market or that our culture places such an emphasis on the importance of thin that people will feel desperate enough to try this stuff, no matter the risks. But I think the grossest part is this particular hoodia delivery vehicle: A piece of candy. As in, exactly the sort of forbidden fruit that dieting women think they aren't allowed to eat.

Unless, of course, it will make you skinny.

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