Urgent action into the dieting industry of Australia required

By BodyMatters therapist Sarah McMahon

Endangered Bodies Australia has launched its newest campaign, a petition into a Senate inquiry for the need for  regulation of the dieting and weight loss industry of Australia. We are in a public health crisis. The need for regulation of dietary supplements and products is a matter of safety for Australian consumers. Diets do not result in long term weight loss, and dieting is often associated with weight gain and many other unintended consequences such as disordered eating and depression, reduced self-esteem and self-efficacy.

The petition outlines some key concerns into the dieting industry:

  • Dieting products don’t work- in fact they are more likely to result in increased weight gain and other health concerns
  • Dieting products target an already vulnerable market, adding to their vulnerability
  • It is a lucrative industry that is currently answerable to almost no one when their products are ineffective
  • The industry is riddled with serious conflicts of interest, particularly with regard to research
  • Current regulation of the industry is ineffective
  • Not regulating the industry will have tremendous social, public health and economic cost to Australia.

The petition requests a Senate inquiry into:

  1. Regulation of the weight loss services industry so that only products independently proven to demonstrate sustained weight loss can be sold;
  2. Mechanisms for effective regulation of advertising of the weight loss industry to prevent misleading and deceptive conduct.

And recommends that regulation should require weight loss products – in particular pills and supplements, to be externally tested before they are sold, and their outcomes and side effects accurately and clearly detailed in labelling and advertising. Furthermore, the common risks and side effects ought to be made clear to consumers, including the risk of weight gain in the longer term.

Dr Rick Kausman and I spoke to the Herald Sun about this this serious issue last week.

“Melbourne doctor and weight management expert Rick Kausman believes the ­industry “desperately” needs regulation, as it is dominated by those whose “first priority was not health and wellbeing”.

Dr Kausman said there was “irrefutable evidence” almost everyone who went on a diet regained the weight, with up to two-thirds of people ending up heavier, because diets were impossible to sustain.”

Do you believe there is a need for regulation of the weight loss services industry, namely the advertising and sale of dietary products and supplements? If you are a health professional and you share our concern, please sign the petition for a Senate inquiry. If you are not a health professional however want to support the campaign, you can join Endangered Bodies Australia – there will be other ways you can get involved soon, and there are also other things that you can do now .

2 responses to “Urgent action into the dieting industry of Australia required

  1. This is long overdue. When we have a medical profession that is meant to be evidence based and yet the evidence for long term weight loss shows it’s not possible for the majority why then is it still being used and promoted?

    Body image issues and the associated health risks surely far outweigh the imagined benefits?

  2. There definitely needs to be greater regulation in regards to the weight loss service industry. We are bombarded with countless products that offer a quick fix and no real long term resolutions. So I agree with Kerry, why are these products still being promoted and sold to so many when they’ve been proven to be ineffective.

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