It is almost every day that I see some new health or fitness related product popping up on my social media for some variant of a product that has already been conclusively proven that it does not work.
Seeing this on the many posts of "influencers" should make you question their integrity, or worst, their intelligence in doing simple research. As a customer, you should worry if they are your personal trainer or fitness coach, or someone you look up to. Not all that glitters is gold. A chiseled 6-pack does not automatically imply a well-developed brain.
Many products that are constantly being rehashed are
- Juice Detox: Did you know your body has an organ designed to detox? It's called the liver. It does not need more or less help to do its function. Juices won't help it perform better. It might make your pancreas work harder though. Link
- Magnetic Bracelets: In some form or another, they promise that their specially researched metal disk has elements that is in tune with the frequency of the earth and helps to tune your body to the natural waves so you can perform better, sleep better, increase your sex appeal etc. There has been a major case back in 2011, but it seems new companies pop by all the time. Most recently a similar product was invited to speak and present at Fitness Best Awards 2018 in Singapore. Link
- Fat burning creams: If they did work, someone would have owned the patent and became an instant billionare. Every other product on the market is just using marketing slick to sell a product which at best doesn't work, and at worst, may cause sensitivies or allergies.
How do we know if something works, or if something doesn't?
- Double-blind studies: Both the researcher and the participant does not know which treatment was administered. This is to prevent the placebo effect or expectation effects.
- Large sample size
- Reputable university
- Published in a peer reviewed, reputable journal: This is compared to studies published by companies on their own website, without any other fellow scientists reviewing the data.
The common marketing tactics for scams are:
- Social Proof: If influencers and my friends use it, it must work!
- Halo Effect: If a famous celebrity use it, it must work!
- Authority Figure: If some guy in a lab coat or my personal trainer recommends it, it must work!
- Scarcity: Oh no, it's running out! They said it's going out of stock soon! I should buy it!
Scientific studies are not the be-all and end-all.
They can be manipulated by interested parties, and their data can be doctored. However, this is an important first step to understand before we decide on any purchase. After all, you can be sure most scientists, while willing to put out claims that "exercise is more important than sugar intake" as it is plausible, will not want to risk their reputation to produce studies that enforse juice cleanse, magnetic bracelets or fat burning creams. Even with statistical massaging, it might be difficult to show positive results consistently.
Of course, we are here to help, to ethically sell products that serve a real function. If you are unsure about any product in the market, just Google "product name" and "scam". It will usually be a good starting point.
In the quest for fitness and health, stay smart.