Nutra Tamasha – The great weight-loss hoax – Part 1.

obesity-crop-187102.JPGTamasha: In India it means “farce”.

Obesity: In the world of nutraceuticals, it means “cash-cow”.

Nutra-peddlers can always count on your irrational obsession with your waistline – to improve their bottomline.

Every profit-making nutraceuticals manufacturer (and there are a lot of them, thanks to you), has at least one “guaranteed” product in his arsenal for weight loss. You can safely bet that half their profits come from your paranoia about your bulging belly and your jiggling butt.

Whether any of these weight-loss nutraceuticals or dietary supplements actually work is debatable. Very debatable.

The root cause of the problem is social. We have weird, illogical, physiologically unattainable and medically ridiculous standards of beauty. We judge others by their physical appearance, not by their competence.

In other words, the root cause of the problem is not the nutra-peddlers, but you.

Nutra-peddlers know this very well and they exploit your stupidity to the hilt, as they ply you with one “scientific” dietary supplement after another, each backed by “research”, each guaranteed to make you as sexy as Adonis (or Aphrodite), and each equally worthless.

What’s obesity anyway?

Ah. That’s a good question. Innocent laypeople (that’s you), cannot distinguish between normal weight gain and morbid obesity.

I said, normal weight gain. It is perfectly normal to gain some weight as one ages. Obviously, you cannot expect to be as slim and hard at fifty as you were at twenty. Normal human beings tend to gain some weight, as their metabolic rates decline with age.

The technical term is basal metabolic rate or BMR. Simply put, BMR is an indicator of how much energy you consume at rest. As you age, your BMR will decrease. This is a natural process and not something to be tampered with.

Many nutra-peddlers claim that their products, uniquely, can increase your BMR and make you lose weight dramatically.


It is exceptionally difficult to raise your basal metabolic rate, partly because it is difficult to accurately measure your BMR in the first place. No nutraceutical or dietary supplement that I know of can increase your BMR to the point where you will lose weight just like that.

If any supplement does increase your BMR, then I would definitely wonder about what that supplement actually contains – because only certain prescription drugs are known to affect BMR, and those drugs have nasty side-effects.

How do I know if I’m just overweight or really obese?

What you need to know is your body-to-mass index, also known as BMI. It’s easy to calculate. Simply divide your weight in kilos by your height in square meters.

For a 6 foot tall man weighing 80 kgs, his BMI would be 80/(1.83)^2 = 23.8.

Another quick calculation is your waist-to-hip ratio. That’s easy. Measure waist, measure hips. Divide.

A BMI of more than 26 is generally considered obese. If your BMR is more than 30, that’s morbid obesity.  If your waist-to-hip is more than 1.2, and your BMR is in the high twenties, it would be a good idea to seek professional help.

Mind you, professional help. Not nutra-crap in a bottle.

Up next: How to properly treat obesity.

Stay tuned.



Key reference:

Weight control, US Dept of Health and Human Services.



The Great Nutraceutical Tamasha

Tamasha:  A word known across India. It means “farce”.

Nutraceutical:  Modern catch-word used to describe a confusingly wide range of allegedly healthful products that are allegedly derived from food, or from medicinal plants disguised as food, or offal, glandular secretions, organs, tissue and heaven-knows-what-else, and are allegedly safe and allegedly efficacious.

Note the repeated use of the word “allegedly”.

There are other catch-words that sound impressive but mean nothing – functional food, pharma-food, dietary supplement, nutrimedicine.

If the claims made by those who peddle these nutraceuticals are entirely true, then we just need to gulp their products every day, and we would be blessed with eternal life, thick black flowing hair, slim waists, muscular bodies, surging libidos, and huge throbbing dicks.

After twenty years in the nutraceuticals line, I have none of the above.

The problem with nutraceuticals is money. Nutraceuticals are a multi-billion dollar business, notably in the US of A.

There’s a lot of money to be made if one has sufficient money to start with, understands the regulatory loopholes in the law, can hire some clever lawyers, and knows how to package and present his “miraculous” nutraceuticals to a gullible customer.

That gullible customer of course, is you.

It’s “science” they thunder at you. We have “evidence”, “research”, “time-tested proof”. We have patents, government approvals, license to sell. Yeah sure.

What they’re selling to you, and what you’re actually buying, is not Science but … Hope.

Nothing more than Hope in a bottle.

Come with me then, as I take you into the world of Nutraceuticals.

Let’s talk real science and let’s talk the truth. Then you will understand how you go out of your way to make millionaires out of snake-oil merchants. Admittedly, they’re not all snake-oil merchants, but many of them are.

After that, you can decide what’s good for you.

Stay tuned.

Up next: The Fantastic Antioxidant Hoax.