The Myth that Sells – Localized Fat Loss

Have you ever been so desperate to lose weight you jumped on the  infomercial crazy train without giving it a second thought? Unfortunately, and often enough, there appears to be a  purposeful disregard  for facts (physiological) on the part of those who profit from the sale of “muscle-specific exercise gadgets”.

Think about all the “ab-isolating” devices the marketing gurus promote with repeated false claims  stating their product will result in targeted fat loss (and a six-pack).  Unfortunately, these claims target the innocent individual so desperate to lose weight that any insight through education that dispels these otherwise believable myths falls by the wayside.  Knowledge is power, and education is the key.   Better knowledge and understanding will hopefully lead to the design of a no-nonsense, effective overall program catered to your specific needs.

To clarify truth vs. fiction, performing abdominal exercises or doing appropriately prescribed sit-ups will do little or nothing to rid the waistline of fat as is so often stated.    The use of one of these many currently marketed “ab-isolating” devices  may have  value in conditioning your muscles, (the abdominal region) but constitutes only a small portion of an effective overall fat loss exercise prescription.

Let’s examine the biceps curl (keeping in mind that this would be the only resistance exercise performed).  An innocent and misguided individual new to exercise (struggling with their weight) might be inclined to believe that performing the exercise for several months would result in lean hard biceps.   Would runners give credibility to the theory of localized fat loss?  Initially, overweight runners rarely sport an unchanged upper torso or well conditioned legs.   Aren’t the lower extremities involved in this exercise? There is no difference between these ridiculous considerations and the claims made that training your abs will ultimately result in fat loss around the waistline.  It simply does not work that way.

Fat is lost evenly throughout the body, the areas where the least amount of  fat is accumulated will typically be the first areas one will notice visible results.   This occurs not because you are losing fat faster in one part of your body over another, it simply means that this area will be most visible.

Sadly,  little can be done to discourage the purchasing of these marginally valuable (and inappropriately) marketed devices. Since these infomercials are so professionally produced with advertisements that tout credible endorsements, it is definitely an uphill battle to educate any consumer to the contrary.

Achieving fat loss is a particularly  stubborn and challenging proposition, especially among those individuals who have a very slow metabolism or a genetic predisposition to gain weight more easily than others.

There is twelve billion dollars being spent on misleading or faulty commercial weight loss products or programs annually.  We  can certainly blame the advertisers who have unlimited budgets for misrepresenting these “miracle” devices but it would be a waste of our precious time.   I am yet to see a genuine effort on the part of the weight loss industry attempt to offset the barrage of misinformation thus far, have you?

Helen Rousso
Medical Exercise Specialist/Nutritionist
Post-Rehab Therapist


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