2005-09-22 / Sam Bari

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand

You Too Can Be A Diet Millionaire – Secrets Revealed
By Sam Bari

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
You Too Can Be A Diet Millionaire – Secrets Revealed

Recently, I entered the word “diet” on an Internet search engine. Almost instantly I had access to 18,600,000 Web sites.

Astonishing, wouldn’t you say? Americans spend over $40 billion dollars a year trying to get skinny. Hmmm . . . I wondered how much fat was involved for that much dough. The subject seemed worth exploring.

We sent our crack team of investigative reporters on a twopart mission. Learn the secrets of the diet industry and find out what happened to all the fat. We divided the list of Web sites into several million each and proceeded to gather information. Much to our surprise, the Web sites were fundamentally the same, and not much happened to the fat. For the most part, it’s still where it always has been – where it’s not wanted.

For a minute I thought we might have something. You know, like a new source of energy to replace gasoline. We could take $40 billion dollars worth of unwanted fat and melt it down to something similar to vegetable oil and use it for fuel. I believe that’s the latest craze, converting vegetable oil into fuel. You drive around smelling like a salad, but it’s considerably cheaper than buying bottled water or gas.

Anyway, it wouldn’t work. Well . . . not yet. Since people are still wearing the fat, I assume they would be upset if we started melting it down. So, we carried on with part one of the project to see if there was something worth exposing other than $40 billion dollars worth of unwanted fat.

Each diet we investigated promised extraordinary results with little or no effort on the part of the dieter. The first page of each website was usually an ad with a graphic of an ultra-fit, computer-generated man or woman sporting a beatific smile. The visual sent a clear message: “Hi there! You are fat and I am not. Don’t you wish you looked like me? Not even in your wildest dreams will that ever happen.” The picture is accompanied by catchy text that is obviously designed to bait the reader.

Headlines like these: “Are you tired of being charged group rates when you buy an airline ticket?” Or, “Does a message box saying ‘one at a time please’ appear whenever you step on a digital scale?”

Then comes the clincher – “Lose those unsightly pounds of ugly fat without exercise with the latest new breakthrough in weight loss research – the All Pie Diet.” How can you argue with that? Eat pie, don’t exercise, and lose weight — that’s the diet for me!

To assure that you are convinced, the next page of the promotion is filled with testimonials. Photographs of alleged successful dieters such as Farkwad Spongebelly of Possum Flats, Arkansas show a man on the verge of anorexia holding out the waistband of trousers that are minimally four sizes two large for his emaciated frame. The caption reads: “The all pie diet works! I lost 120 pounds.”

Testimonials from women are always included. One picture shows a hugely obese woman wearing a paper bag over her head with the word “Before” superimposed across the picture. Next to the “Before” picture is a photograph of a gorgeous blonde (they’re always blonde) woman in her early twenties wearing a skimpy bikini. The caption reads: “Darlene Cheesebottom was so embarrassed she wouldn’t show her face. Now she’s slender and beautiful thanks to the all pie diet. Her husband loves her again and she couldn’t be happier.” They leave out the part about her leaving the fatso she married to run off with a male stripper.

On the last page they tell you to buy a book while supplies last and promise that for $19.99 this book will show you the way to the body you always wanted. The book delivers all that was promised.

The diet is indeed, all pie. Unfortunately you are only allowed one piece approximately the size of a postage stamp, once a day. It’s all in the wording. You are not asked to “do” anything. You are told “not” to do things like lie down or sit for a total of two hours every day. During that time you must “not” stand in one spot for more than a quarter second at a time. They recommend that this “not doing anything” experience should happen while you are at the bottom of a steep hill and “not” standing in one place while you work your way up.

Of course you’re gonna lose weight. And every diet book or video describes a similar scenario. Just name any delicious calorie-laden, fatty, cholesterolheavy, carbohydrate-loaded food, limit it to one gram a day and sell the method in a book or workout video and you too can become a diet magnate.

People eat too much and they get fat. Now they gotta work and show some discipline if they want to be healthy, slender and attractive. Of course very few are willing to do that. The big secret of the diet millionaires is that they don’t mind taking advantage of those weaknesses. It’s another side of that system that we just can’t understand.

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