“Federal Government cracks downs on weight-loss industry.”

That was the amazing headline I saw on News.com.au today. I nearly fell off my chair.

WEIGHT-LOSS programs and products will have to prove they can help people keep off the kilos long-term as the Federal Government cracks down on the $414-million-a-year industry.

The Rudd Government’s Preventative Health Taskforce is understood to have called for the weight-loss industry to be regulated in a report handed down last month.

I’ve blogged about (some not so great) recommendations made by the Preventative Health Taskforce before.

The Taskforce provided the National Preventative Health Strategy to the Government on 30 June 2009 and the Australian Government has been sitting on it ever since. This happens a lot with reports written by external Taskforces or Advisory Panels – they are submitted to the government (federal or state) and then various Ministers sit on them for months. There’s no indication when the Strategy will be released publicly.

It follows growing evidence that diets may actually be adding to the obesity crisis as overweight people lose weight rapidly while following programs but quickly put it back on after they stop.

 Amazing, right?

The taskforce said that young women in particular were spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on programs to manage their weight.

Despite this, the nation’s obesity rate was climbing with more than 60 per cent of adults now overweight or obese.

Not only that…

 The Dietitians Association of Australia is backing the recommendation.


The association said regulation should require businesses marketing a diet program to provide evidence to a panel of experts showing what percentage of those who used the diet kept the weight off two years after starting.

Chief executive Claire Hewat said a good diet would result in weight loss of about half a kilogram per week.

“If you can lose 5 per cent of your body weight you are doing really well,” she said. “Diets are not the point, it’s lifestyle change that is needed.”

Then the article puts the boot to the diet industry:

A Choice survey of pharmacy diet programs published earlier this year found they were successful at helping people shed kilos in a hurry if followed closely – but they did little to change a person’s lifestyle in the long term.

Many were so nutritionally deficient that dieters had to take vitamin supplements, while some counsellors selling the programs had just three hours training.

And then, of course, the Dietitians Association of Australia has to ruin everything with:

The association also wants national exercise guidelines reviewed because the 30 minutes of exercise a day promoted by the Government is good for general wellbeing but not enough to tackle obesity. 

 Let’s break that down.

Thirty minutes of exercise a day is good for general health, but won’t “tackle obesity”.

General health means nothing if you are still fat.

After the Chief Executive Officer of the DAA explicitly said “Diets are not the point, it’s lifestyle change that is needed”, the Association still believes that one’s fat – rather than one’s lifestyle – is at the root of all our problems.

How can that make sense to ANYONE?!

Alas. We were so close, so tantalising close to a mainstream Australian article espousing health at every size…


11 Responses to ““Federal Government cracks downs on weight-loss industry.””

  1. 1 randomquorum 19 August, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Woah. Despite the “close but no cigar” feel here, I have to say that this:

    regulation should require businesses marketing a diet program to provide evidence to a panel of experts showing what percentage of those who used the diet kept the weight off two years after starting

    Will be pretty fucking amazing if it goes through. BRING IT ON.

    I’m actually pleasantly surprised that this has come out of the Taskforce – I was terrified of what they would “find” when I was looking through the submissions!

    It seems that someone with a brain has actually seen through the mess of dietmania to the heart of the matter. FINALLY. I did wonder how they could carry on oblivious for so long…

  2. 2 Mme. 19 August, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    One can only hope the U.S. will follow suit, one day.

  3. 3 Alice 19 August, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Big surprise, having a “meal shake” for breakfast and a power bar for lunch isn’t healthy for you!

    If someone wants to lose weight, they should see a dietitian/nutritionist and maybe a personal trainer.
    Not waste their money on these unhealthy “weight loss” programs that don’t work.

    • 4 Frances 19 August, 2009 at 3:59 pm

      Perhaps they should go see the Fat Nutritionist

      When the Dieticians Association of Australia can’t even separate unhealthy lifestyles from being fat, I don’t blame people for clinging to whatever promise of weight loss they can get. To them and to many many others, thin automatically equals health.

      Also, I’m pretty sure fatties have already thought of the ‘eat right and exercise’ route. It doesn’t always end in weight loss.

  4. 5 randomquorum 19 August, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    I actually did go to a nutritionist in my dieting days, and the only useful piece of advice she gave me (which I continue to follow) was to get more calcium.

    Other than that, she basically told me to eat miniscule amounts under the label “right sizing” – I’m talking 1 slice of toast for breakfast, or 60g of chicken for lunch. Yeah I’ve tried that, thanks, not doing it again.

    And, it was a waste of money.

  5. 6 Kath 19 August, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    I heard this as a bulletin on the radio this morning, and I literally tripped over my pants as I was putting them on, in total shock!

    It’s not perfect, but it is a step. And a bloody big one too!

    • 7 Frances 19 August, 2009 at 8:40 pm

      I’m still taking it with a grain of salt. The Taskforce, while appointed by the Australian Government, is still an external body and the Government is not bound to implement any of their recommendations.

      This is a great recommendation, but others have not been as good (like paying fatties to go to the gym…).

      It’ll be interesting to see how this all pans out.

  6. 8 Carli 20 August, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    You have no idea how much I love your site.
    NO IDEA.

    Thank you so much for all the great posts. 😀

  7. 10 Sew-Ann 12 September, 2009 at 4:59 am

    It would be nice to have this in the states but there are multiple reasons to keep this from happening. And I know all about losing weight fast and having it come back full throttle and worse in 2 years. I did all the “right things” and ended up getting fatter.

  1. 1 It’s Official « RandomQuorum Trackback on 20 August, 2009 at 12:34 pm
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