Special Announcement - There's Nothing New!

"Ladies and gentleman, sit back and listen. I have a stunning announcement. In the world of weight loss, in the area of nutritional supplementation and dieting, nothing's new!!!"

Why would I take the time to write an article if nothing's new? Primarily because product marketers, diet sellers, infomercial producers, and hawkers of "magic pills" want you to believe something magical just leaped in over the horizon to rescue hordes of overweight Americans.

As I evidenced in a listing of the FTC claims over the past century or so, the offerings are cyclical, they come and go with almost comical repetition.

I also recently posted two articles, one specific to the diet offerings, the other specific to the newest pills being touted as solutions. If you haven't yet read them, here are the links:

In this article I'd like to further illustrate how offerings come and go, and there's a science, or maybe an art, to concocting the next great scam.

Let's go way way back in time, about 150 years or so. Prior to 1850, fat was admired. Back in those days, if you could fatten yourself up it proved you were feasting on meals fit only for the privileged. Hunger was the plague of the less privileged, and those who could pack on the extra pounds clearly enjoyed lifestyles filled with abundance.

As we moved beyond the first half of the 19th century, our population learned to reap what they sow, literally. Yes, Americans were mastering farming, harvesting, and the raising of livestock. Food was a-plenty and eatin' became an event no longer horded by the wealthy. As grains were turned into breads, pastries, and pies, and butter, whole milk, and cheese became simpler to obtain, "fat" became less in vogue. Once "anyone can have it," it seems less appealing. The wealthy learned to drink fine wines and developed gourmet dishes so they could stay ahead of the curve, but they also began to pamper themselves with a seminal focus on being "fit and trim."

Just around the turn of the century, a huckster named Frank J. Kellog had an idea. He decided that "fat" was becoming burdensome, and any time a problem becomes widespread, the solution becomes very profitable. Kellogg invented a formula that he knew he could sell as a fat loss aid, but how could he reach the masses? The infomercial had not yet been invented, so mass marketing required advertising in highly circulated print publications, and that's precisely what Kellogg did. He advertised. He featured a cartoon image of a rotund man resembling a well inflated balloon in the popular Collier's magazine and assured readers he could cure them. Yes, Frank J. Kellogg had released "Safe Fat Reducer." From a marketing perspective, it was wonderful! "Safe" means free from risk, so a formula that could safely help people return to "fit and trim" was bound to be a home run. Kellogg amassed great wealth selling his formula, but the party ended when the American Medical Association reviewed his product. It was discovered that Kellogg was selling thyroid. You thought thyroid was only sold on the internet? Nope. Kellogg had it going on way back when, and there's nothing safe about messing with thyroid function among the masses. His product name was clearly a misnomer, but thyroid was only one ingredient. There were two others. Breadcrumbs and laxatives. The FTC hadn't yet required warnings and disclaimers, but if they could go back in time and put some restrictions on Kellogg's offerings, Safe Fat Reducer might have been sold with a similiar disclaimer to Xenical featuring those marvelous words, "anal leakage" and "loose and oily stools."

Kellogg may have been one of the first, but scores of followers quickly emerged. In capitalist America, riches could be amassed selling bogus products to fat folk. Some years after Kellogg's Fat Reducer fiasco, Marjorie Hamilton came out with an astounding claim. Epsom salts could actually draw fat out through the skin! If you'd simply soak in a bathtub with some epsom salts, you'd lose all of that blubber. Marjorie's offering had a bit of a twist. Her epsom salts were sold with instructions. No, not instructions as to how to use the salts, but instructions as to what else must be done if the salts were to do the trick. Yes, Marjorie might have been the first to claim a worthless product "rids the body of fat" and in order to create believers, combined it with instructions to "eat right and exercise." Marjorie clearly stated that in order for the weight loss salts to do their thing, users would have to take long walks and write off bread, potatoes, cakes, pies, and pastries. She might have earned some nice money in the early 1900's, and perhaps she paved the way for someone who wants to sell a supplement and insist users avoid carbs and exercise.

So, prior to the 1960's, innovators had initiated and replicated unsafe products sold as "safe," laxatives sold as weight loss aids, and worthless products sold in conjunction with starvation diets to create the illusion of actual benefit. The scams continued, but in the late 60's things changed in a major way. It was clear at that point in time, thanks to science and pharmaceutical development, that stimulant compounds could replicate or stimulate the production of the neurotransmitters epinephrine and norepinephrine, and in doing so could flick the appetite switch to the "off" position. In other words, the drug companies were ready to roll out amphetamines as prescription weight loss aids. The drug companies recruited doctors as their messengers, and America was hooked on "diet pills."

I remember going to the Jefferson Starship concert in Central Park in 1976. I was 16 years old and I'd never seen so many people swallowing pills in one place. There was a rallying cry throughout the park. "Dexadrine!" "Dexadrine!" It was as blatant as the beer vendor at Shea stadium yelling "beer here." The "diet pills" were clearly being used for other purposes, and that's when the government put the brakes on. They initiated controls, new drug regulations, and "diet pills" were suddenly less available. Oh, you could still get them, if you had a willing physician with a pen and a prescription pad, but the drug companies had to go back to work to come up with something with greater appeal than their compounds that were being linked to overdose and death.

By the late 1980's there was a new buzz. There were some new drug compounds that were being used successfully to facilitate 'safe weight loss" in France. Soon thereafter, phentermine and fenflouramine were all the rage, and by the mid-1990's, Phen-Fen was "hot." That's about the time I released my first book, Mind & Muscle, Fitness For All of You (later re-released under the name TRANSFORM! The Ultimate Fitness Solution). I traveled the country doing media appearances and Phen-Fen became a huge platform. I did extensive research and came to learn some very disturbing things about what was being sold as a wonderful drug combination. Shortly after I completed my book tour I had become the go-to guy for media stories on Phen-Fen, and the show Hard Copy sent reporters and camera people to my home to interview me (my neighbors no doubt thought I was involved in some kind of scandal). The interview lasted a few hours, and I discussed how the Phen-Fen drugs, in combination, affect the same neurotransmitters in the brain as cocaine. I pointed out that while we openly accept that cocaine leads to brain damage, when the drug companies stand to make lots of money the language changes. In the Physician's Desk Reference, the Phen-Fen drugs were referenced as leading to "possible short term memory loss." I emphasized the side effect was the result of the destruction of brain cells. I also went on to explain how there was an ever-growing correlation between Phen-Fen prescription and the onset of an irreversible disease, PPH (Primary Pulmonary Hypertension) for which the prescription was a heart and lung transplant and a much-shortened lifespan. Soon thereafter the Mayo Clinic released a report linking 24 cases of heart valve disease to the drug combination. What followed was additional study revealing that of 291 Phen-Fen users tested, 271 showed ECG abnormalities. In 1997 Phen-Fen was removed from the market, but here's the stunning part from my perspective. My phone continued to ring for two years afterward from people who had heard me discuss the dangers of the drugs on TV and radio shows. The overwhelming question was "where can I get some?" I heard stories from people who were crossing the border to Mexico, others who were buying from people who knew people who knew other people, and many that were switching over to two drugs used in the treatment of asthma, clenbuterol and ephedrine.

With Phen-Fen gone, the now drug-dependent weight-loss-wanting population was ready to buy virtually anything. Phenylpropanalamine, previously used in cold meds found its way into weight loss supplements. The FDA found overuse of PPA to be linked to increasing episodes of strokes so PPA was pulled. Ephedrine then became the drug of choice. In 2003 the FDA stopped manufacturers from aggressively selling ephedra compounds as weight loss aids, but by this point in time internet drug sales opened the doors to purchase anything from Phentermine (The "Phen" in Phen-Fen) to prescription stimulants without having to ever leave home.

The drug companies continue to pump out their releases, although history shows us an almost planned obselescence. A drug sells as long as doctors prescribe it for weight loss, and until side effects or risks become clear due to reported episodes, billions of dollars can be generated. By the time one drug is pulled or abandoned another one is ready.

If you look at the offerings now, you'll find they're all extensions or replications of some of the things I've mentioned.

Just as Jonas Kellogg, supplement sellers today create "combinations" of compounds, each with its own reputed effect, to create "proprietary formulas" and with creative marketing people buy.

Supplements offered on infomercials follow the trail blazed by Marjorie Hamilton and promise their products "work" in conjunction with a diet and exercise program.

New central nervous system stimulants, ranging from high dosages of caffeine to herbal compounds which serve as raw material for stimulant drugs (as an example, ephedra contains ephedrine hydrochloride which is the raw material for the most addictive substance on the planet, methamphetamine) are offered for sale with creative labelling and creative advertising.

Xenical (generically named Orlistat ) isn't far off from Frank Kellog's "laxative," and combinations of stimulant herbs such as bitter orange (providing synephrine alkaloids) with "tranquility-inducing compounds" such as 5-HTP attempt to replicate the Phen-Fen effects . . . "naturally."

A "new formula" mixes aloe vera (a laxative when ingested orally) with uva ursi, a diuretic herb, and promises it's "a revolutionary product release to solve the biological problems that lead to obesity." Marketing spin is powerful, and as the marketing machine widens its net with announcements of amazing new products, revolutionary diets, and miraculous discoveries, you'll now realize it's all been done before.

We can keep waiting for science to invent the solution, or we can recognize that we've had the power all along.

If this article plays a tiny role in giving someone the "a-ha," in helping a single individual wake up, grab hold of some common sense, and recognize that if a fit healthy body is the goal, exercise and supportive eating are the answer, if this article leads anyone from a place of confusion to a place of clarity, I can rest well knowing I've done something good.

- Phil Kaplan

Now Available Wherever You Live:

21-Day Journey to Excellence Groups are being conducted in South Florida by Phil and his associates.
Groups are llimited to 12 people and they do sell out. 

Call 1 800 552-1998 or email phil@philkaplan.com
to find out about dates and availability.

Small Group Workshops are held in Phil Kaplan's Wellington Office
3132 Fortune Way, Wellington (W. Palm Beach), FL

If you do not live in South Florida, visit the 21 Day Journey to Excellence Site for a Remote version

Key Question: Will results with Phil Kaplan's Programs last?
Click here for the stunning answer


Articles Worth Checking Out:


Also be sure to visit the following pages:

[ Home ] [ Site Menu ] [ For Fitness Professionals ] [ Superstore ] [ Update Menu ] [ Ask Phil ]
[ Small Group Workshops ] [ Programs ]

This site is designed and operated by Phil Kaplan
Phil Kaplan's Fitness is located at
3132 Fortune Way, #D1
Wellington, Florida 33414
The TOLL-FREE Product Order Line is 1 800 552-1998
The Direct Office Number is 561 204-2014
The Fax Number is 561 204-2184
e-mail phil@philkaplan.com