Quick Weight Loss or Quackery?

Even smart people fall prey to quick weight-loss gimmicks

By Dulce Zamora
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

Sallie Elizabeth has always had large breasts and a big bottom, and she has accepted them as part of her genetic makeup. But when cellulite appeared in the back of her upper leg, she "freaked out" and resolved to do something about it.

A friend recommended endermologie, a deep massage treatment using a motorized device with two adjustable rollers and controlled suction. The device is said to improve the look of cellulite by gently folding and unfolding the skin for smooth and regulated deep-tissue movement.

The cellulite is "less visible," she says, noting her smoother, softer skin. "I feel healthier. My circulation has improved ... and I feel more relaxed."

To keep up the effects, the 20-something model visits Smooth Synergy, a cosmedical spa in Manhattan, once or twice a week for 35-minute sessions with the endermologie machine and a technician.

Elizabeth may be enjoying her cellulite-busting experience, but experts raise eyebrows at many tools or treatments purported to reduce the appearance of cellulite, trim fat in specific areas, shed pounds, or build muscle -- particularly if they claim to replace exercise and good nutrition.

"They're a waste of money," says Richard Cotton, a spokesman for the American Council on Exercise and chief exercise physiologist for myexerciseplan.com.

If that is the case, then a sizeable chunk of currency could be going down the drain. According to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) weight-loss advertising trend report, in the year 2000 alone, consumers spent an estimated $34.7 billion on weight-loss products and programs.