Entries in Weight Loss (5)


Financial Incentives Encourage New Year's Weight-Loss Resolutions 

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Money might not be the ultimate motivator for everyone, but many people are turning to financial incentives in pursuit of weight loss or healthy lifestyles.

Company office pools or groups of friends encourage competitions to see who loses the most weight or body fat. The winner can win a pot of money or personal glory.

Now, with smart phones, an increasing number of websites and apps challenge users to set weight-loss goals or to compete with friends or strangers using monetary rewards and punishments.

Yale economics professor Dean Karlan in 2007 launched, a website through which users sign contracts to reach personal goals. The goals can include losing weight, quitting alcohol and getting out of debt. Users choose how much money to put on the line and where they want it to go if they don't reach their goal, such as to a friend or a charity.

Not to be outdone, two Harvard classmates launched GymPact a year ago. It was a free iPhone check-in app that rewards people for going to the gym, started by Yifan Zhang and Geoff Oberhofer.

Now GymPact, based in San Francisco with five employees, has launched an Android app today and boasts that it has motivated more than 750,000 workouts in 2012. Over 100,000 people signed up for GymPact in 2012.

The premise allows those who go to the gym, according to their "pact," to never pay money, which can be anything from one to seven days a week. You provide your credit card information and pay an amount of your choosing if you do not adhere to the pact. The money from those who fail to meet their pact goal is pooled to those who do. A user's payout depends on what the people who failed to meet their goals put at stake and can often be a couple dollars a week.

The minimum payment per day for a missed gym outing is $5. For higher stakes, you can choose from $10 to $50 in $10 increments.

GymPact makes profits by taking a cut when money is paid.

"For me, what has been so surprising is that GymPact works best for users who are least active to start," Zhang said.

From 20 weeks before a user signed up for GymPact to six weeks afterwards, she said there was a 64 percent increase in user activity with the app. There was a 520 percent increase in activity for the least active users, or those who exercised less than 1 day per week previously.

The company has more than 40,000 gyms in a database to which users can add, with the exception of a home or office gym. Users check in on their smartphone apps.

GymPact also partnered with RunKeeper, another free app that keeps track of outdoor activities such as running or cycling, and allows those activities to count toward a pact.

The company says its users reach 82 percent of the workouts to which they commit, with the average users committing $5 to $10 per day.

But financial incentives might not create long-term health habits.

A study by Carnegie Mellon University published in 2011 showed that financial incentives helped a group of veterans lose more weight compared with those who did not have monetary motivation. But many of those participants who lost the weight regained it after the 32-week experiment.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Kirstie Alley Weight-Loss Products Can’t Dance, Suit Claims

Donna Ward/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Kirstie Alley might dance with the stars, but her weight-loss products deserve a “1″ from the judges, a new lawsuit claims.

The class-action lawsuit was filed against the former Cheers actress and Organic Liaison weight-loss supplements, which she hawks online and on television shopping network QVC and says have helped her lose 100 pounds.

According to a lawsuit filed by lead plaintiff Marina Abramyan against Organic Liaison LLC, Organic Liaison Management and Kirstie Alley in Superior Court, the products -- including Rescue Me, which allegedly reduces cravings for food and appetite and Relieve Me, which allegedly supports colon cleansing, aids weight loss and prevents fluid retention and bloating -- “are nothing more than run-of-the-mill fiber and calcium supplements.”

Abramyan, who claims that she didn’t lose a pound on the program, argues in the suit that there is no scientific evidence that the products cause weight loss. Furthermore, she alleges, although the ads maintain that the supplements are “USDA approved,” they are, “neither certified as an effective weight-loss aid by the USDA nor anything more than standard dietary supplements incapable of causing weight loss.”

According to the complaint, the Florida-based company used misleading before-and-after pictures of Alley, who did not shed her weight from the Organic Liaison Program, but because of, “an above average exercise regimen and extremely low calorie diet,” which included "five to seven hours of daily exercising as part of her stint on 'Dancing with the Stars' (DWTS) in the spring of 2011."

“In peddling the Organic Liaison Programs, which are sold online and on QVC, Ms. Alley attributes her weight loss to the program, but in reality, Ms. Alley’s weight loss is due to nothing more than the tried and true concept of diet and exercise,” the suit says.

Organic Liaison disputed the claims, calling them “patently false.”

“Ms. Alley participated in DWTS for only a short period of time during her approximately 1 1/2 year participation in the Organic Liaison program; the vast majority of her weight loss had nothing to do with her participation in that show,” the company told ABC News in a statement. “It is Ms. Alley’s persistence over 1 1/2 years on the Organic Liaison program, coupled with regular exercise, that lead to her dramatic weight loss over that time period; this is consistent with Organic Liaison’s advertising and representations, none of which create false net impressions to the reasonable consumer…We will vigorously defend ourselves against these frivolous claims.”

The suit seeks an unspecified amount in damages for false advertising on behalf of costumers who have used the Organic Liaison program since July 2008.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pizza Vending Machine Coming Soon to United States

Let's Pizza(NEW YORK) -- Vending machines aren't just for a bag of chips and soda anymore. A vending machine that makes fresh pizza to order will debut in the U.S. this year after experiencing popularity in Europe.

The Amsterdam-based company A1 Concepts began distributing the machine, created by Italian Claudio Torghel, in Europe three years ago.

For $5.97, the vending machine serves up a 10.5-inch pizza with a choice of margherita, pepperoni, ham or bacon.  The dough is made fresh, assembled per order and boxed in about 2 1/2 minutes.  Infrared ovens allow the pizza to cook quickly, CEO Ronald Rammers told Pizza Marketplace.  

"Each pizza machine is connected to the Internet to control stock. If necessary, besides the standard services, the operator will (re-stock). Each pizza machine contains ingredients for 200 pizzas," said Rammers.

A separate slot in the machine dispenses a pizza cutter and napkins.  

How much will a vending machine pizza set you back? One pizza clocks in around 676 calories and 22.6 grams of fat.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


FTC Calls Nivea's Bluff on Body Slimming Cream

Federal Trade Commission / Nivea(WASHINGTON) -- In effort to give consumers the real skinny on Nivea Skin Cream, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reached a settlement requiring Nivea skin cream maker Beiersdorf, Inc. to stop claiming Nivea My Silhouette! cream helps users slim down.

As part of the settlement, Beiersdorf, Inc. has also agreed to pay $900,000.

In the case, the FTC charges Beiersdorf, Inc. with falsely saying that regular use of the Nivea My Silouette! would stimulate weight loss.

The charge  is partly based off commercials for the cream which includes a voice over stating: “New Nivea My Silhouette! with Bio-Slim Complex helps redefine the appearance of your silhouette and noticeably firm skin in just four weeks.  So you can rediscover your favorite jeans.  And how they still get his attention.  New Nivea My Silhouette! with Bio-Slim Complex.  Touch and be touched.”

The commercial simultaneously depicts a woman applying the cream to her body and discovering an old pair of jeans fit her again.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Nestle Invests Billions to Decode Digestive Systems

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images(VEVEY, Switzerland) -- Nestle, the world's largest food company -- responsible for making Eskimo Pies, Haagen-Dazs ice cream, and Tombstone frozen pizza -- has invested billions of dollars to research metabolic disorders and improve nutrition in our diets.

Headquartered near the tranquil waters of Lake Geneva in Vevey, Switzerland, the Nestle Research Center hosts a team of top food scientists dedicated to decoding the human metabolism. The company also agreed to purchase Prometheus Laboratories Inc, a maker of treatments for cancer and gastrointestinal illnesses, Bloomberg reported last month.

Metabolomics, or the study of the chemical processes of the human metabolism, is a relatively new field of science. It has only been around for about 10 years, according to Nestle researcher Alastair Ross.

Using artificial body parts, scientists test the digestion cycles of infants, adults -- even dogs. In one experiment, they pumped strawberry yogurt through an artificial human intestine filled with acids, enzymes and pig bile. There are millions of receptors in the gut that give feedback to the brain, including the feeling of satiety or hunger.

They're also trying to decode what consumers -- too young to talk -- think about different foods.

"By examining closely the facial expression of the baby we can identify...differences between rejection and fullness, for example," said Ciaran Forde, a senior sensory specialist.

Other experiments use live adult test subjects, who are questioned about their eating habits, such as how much of this food versus that food does the subject thinks he would need to feel full. They are even analyzing urine samples in a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to unlock the secrets of human metabolism. Aside from food studies, Nestle scientists also use software that tracks a person's eye movement as he looks over a product's packaging to analyze how effectively the product is marketed.

With about 10,000 brands under its name, Nestle's global sales last year nearly reached $105 billion. In 2010, its food and beverage division spent $1.3 billion on research and development.

The company spent 10 years perfecting "extrusion freezing" to make low fat ice cream for their Bryer's Slow Churned ice cream brand. It developed an infant cereal that reduces constipation under their Nestum brand. It even invented a low carbon footprint coffee machine for the Dolce Gusto.

But aside from just improving its products, Nestle is also studying how our bodies crave fat and sugar in order to develop healthier products and help ease the American obesity epidemic. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four Americans is considered obese.

The challenge is not only to crack the code on how to make healthy food more desirable but also how to trick our bodies into making us feel full faster and longer so we eat less.

After running tests with the artificial stomach, Nestle scientists discovered that olive oil treated with monoglyceride -- a lipid often found in chewing gum, whipped cream, and other bakery products -- will take eight times longer to digest than regular olive oil.

"We think that if it is slower it also will mean that people will feel full for a longer time and then they'll maybe eat less and snack less," explained Heribert Watzke.

Scientists are also developing personalized diets, tailored down to suit an individual's own digestive system.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio