Personal Health

The Truth Behind Weight Loss Industry Body Transformations

New campaign reveals how diet companies are tricking consumers

Photo Credit: Psych Guides

How many times have you seen a weight loss commercial displaying a dramatic before-and-after body transformation that seemingly occurred in a matter of days and thought, "that is too good to be true." Well, chances are, you are probably right, according to a new campaign called, "The Weight Loss Fakers."

Created by Psych Guides, a health resource for learning about mental health disorders such as body dysmorphia, the research project exposes the deception used in weight loss images through infographics, demonstrating the lengths that diet companies will go to in order to convince consumers they can lose pounds without actually having to do any hard, physical work.

So how do they do it? The project provides an enlightening summary of the variety of tricks used by the weight loss industry to create the illusion of looking skinny and toned.  Such measures include wearing the color black; keeping your hair out rather than up to create the apperance of a slimmer face; standing with straight posture and a wide stance to appear thinner as well as shaving and tann skin which exposes muscle contour.


According to a Psych Guides spokesperson, the goal of the Weight Loss Fakers project is to reveal to the public just how images that contribute to unrealistic ideals around body image can easily be faked, even without digital manipulation:

“We collaborated with fitness professionals who were brave enough to come forward and reveal how weight loss can easily be falsified in those before-and-after photos without even having to use Photoshop, just by simply taking measures like sucking in your stomach or applying a fake tan. Most have been featured on diet advertisements or as personal trainers and have been quite vocal on this topic so we acquired their permission to use their images as part of the campaign,” he told AlterNet.

And the results speak for themselves...

The take-home message? Don't believe everything you see...especially in magazines and weight loss advertisements. As the campaign says:

"Weight loss has no shortcuts and requires hard work and dedication. Beauty is only skin deep and only a healthy lifestyle paired with diet and exercise, makes a difference you can both see and feel".

Take the "Real or Fake Quiz" to guess which people lose weight legimiately and which are faking it.


Jodie Gummow is a senior fellow and staff writer at AlterNet.