If you've ever been channel surfing in the wee hours of the morning, you've probably seen a fair share of infomercials promising to make your life easier with some new miracle gadget...
The majority of these companies prey on our country's obsession with weight-loss and instant gratification: These products will help you lose weight! Fast! With almost no effort!
But we know better than that (or, we should know better)...
These devices can range from a hot new piece of workout equipment guaranteeing six-pack abs in a matter of weeks to the latest technology in weight-loss science that will let you eat whatever you want and still slim down. Some are almost believable; others are downright outrageous.
We rounded up the top five most ludicrous diet tools ever marketed — and clear up the truth about their effectiveness.
The HAPIfork is the latest member of the electronic diet arsenal, and quite possibly the most ridiculous. Imagine sitting down to your favorite meal (for me, that's an Asian-inspired noodle stir-fry), but as you begin to chow down, suddenly your fork starts shaking...
No, that's not an earthquake stirring, it's your fork telling you to slow down!
The HAPIfork, produced by Hapilabs, uses capacitive detection and a microchip to determine if the amount of fork servings per minute is too high. Data can then be uploaded to your smart device or computer and tracked using an online dashboard.
The idea behind HAPIfork is that we often eat too fast — and end up overeating before our bodies even realize we're full. By slowing down, you not only spare your digestive system, but may also be able to cut down on the intake of excess calories. However, while their intentions may be based in truth, the $99 a HAPIfork will set you back could be better spent on higher quality food ingredients or to cover your monthly gym membership. Slowing down while eating may be a good idea, but I'm not prepared to take orders from my utensils just yet.
2. Electronic Ab Exerciser
With names like The Ab Belt and Slendertone Flex Pro, the electronic ab exerciser seems like the most technologically advanced form of fitness. It's so advanced that you don't even have to do anything — a weight-loss dream! Just strap on a belt and watch your stomach become ripped while you go about your every day activities.
All it takes is a cursory look through the online reviews to learn that electronic ab belts are not all they're cracked up to be... These devices are based on EMS technology, or electronic muscle stimulation, which is typically used to prevent atrophy in patients with injuries or illnesses which prevent them from moving certain parts of the body on their own.
Electronic ab exercisers use this same technology on your abdominals, administering small electronic impulses to the abdominal muscles. These impulses, however, are too small to have any significant effect on fat burning or muscle building. The most you'll get from using one is a lighter wallet and a few sideways glances.
It's impossible to spot-treat problem areas on the body with one type of workout. The only way to get the defined abs you want is to combine strength training, cardio, and core exercises while maintaining a healthy diet.
3. The Neckline Slimmer
Worried about your double chin? The excess skin forming under your jaw?
Meet the neckline slimmer. This spring-loaded device claims that in just two minutes a day for eight weeks, you can tighten up the muscles and the skin surrounding your jaw for a thinner, younger looking neckline.
The science, backed by physiotherapist Paul Younane, claims the neckline slimmer does for your neck what weights do for your body. Seems logical enough, right? Unfortunately, it doesn't quite work that way. Firming muscles has no effect on tightening skin, and fitness experts say the neckline slimmer can actually damage your neck and spine.
According to Alfonso Moretti (also know as 'The Angry Trainer'), “[Using the neckline slimmer] may put even more strain on the back of your neck and possibly lead to some serious cervical issues.” Testimonials from users also confirm neck and jaw pain from the neckline slimmer and no noticeable results.
So, despite promising logic, the most you'll get from the neckline slimmer is a sore neck and some wasted time.
4. Get Slim Slippers
One would think weight-loss footwear would be an obvious success. Even if there's nothing extraordinary about the shoes, the fact that you have to move around at least a little must have some positive effect on your waistline, right?
Well, maybe not...
The Get Slim slipper is a heel-less slip-on shoe with embedded magnets, claiming to make your heart beat faster and speed up your metabolism just by wearing them for 15 minutes a day. The slippers (which are intentionally about five sizes too small) are supposedly based on the ancient Chinese therapy “reflexology.” By positioning your body weight on the ball of your feet instead of the heels, Get Slim slippers massage pressure points connected to the heart and digestive organs. Or so they say. The manufacturers themselves even admit the odd-looking shoes are not based on science, but guarantee they will allow you to lose weight without adjusting your diet or exercise level at all (red flag!).
As you probably guessed, the only way you'll actually get slim using the Get Slim slippers is if you run several miles a day in them (though it's not recommended you wear them for more than two and a half hours a day). One consumer even reported gaining weight after using the slippers for 30 days. Besides looking utterly ridiculous, Get Slim slippers will set you back $50.
5. Caffeine Tights
If you thought footwear had the market cornered on ridiculous weight-loss apparel, think again...
You can also attempt to lose weight with caffeine-infused hosiery, or so claims Skinkiss, the makers of these “coffee tights.” The tights are made with microcapsules of caffeine built into the fabric. When your legs heat up, the caffeine activates and is supposed to increase your metabolism and burn fat. The manufacturers claim the wearer can lose two centimeters from their thighs and lessen the appearance of cellulite.
The most obvious problem with caffeine tights is the claim that they can spot reduce the fat on your thighs, which has been proven time and time again to be an impossible feat.
Besides that, the caffeine only lasts through about five wears (does that include washes?), so at £25 ($38) for a 3-pack, you'll need to spend a significant amount of cash to achieve long-term results. You're much better off sticking to a cup of coffee for your caffeine boost and leaving pantyhose in the past.
It's amazing the lengths companies will go to make a profit from a ridiculous product, but it's even more amazing that people are actually buying these outrageous items.
When it comes to losing weight, the age-old adage is too true: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
When you're ready to get serious about taking control of your health and weight, turn off the infomercials and get back to the basics of eating right and exercising daily.