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March 27, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 1 Faves: 0

The Exploitative Practices of the U.S. Weight-Loss Industry

By Jeany Miller More Blogs by This Author


The newspaper I publish relies on the support of advertisers to stay afloat. In other words, if I don’t have ads in the paper to pay myself and the printer, the paper ceases to exist. This means I am in the community a lot, speaking to new and old business owners alike to sell ads.

On one of these forays, I made the colossal mistake of stepping into an Herbalife store. I’ve never tasted this company’s products or, for that matter, bothered myself with the whole Herbalife concept. But, on this occasion, rather than selling the ad I had hoped for, I feel I got roped into a very well-rehearsed speech that provided me with little information but filled my head with all kinds of false hope.

The woman I spoke with, while speaking very quickly, told me Herbalife expects you to replace two meals per day with milkshakes and to snack on green tea and another substance (I can’t remember what she said…perhaps aloe vera?). Then, she wrote my name and phone number into an appointment calendar, gave me a business card, and sent me on my way. But not before telling me of all the enormous success Herbalife brings to those who partake.

Financial Gain

"But what about cost?" I wondered a few days later. After all, I’m already tangled in the Curves web, and I’m so angry about that I want to close my bank account and never speak to the owner or her employees again. So, I visited the Herbalife website and found loads of information, but no prices. At this point, I was seriously intrigued, so I went to eBay and found an Herbalife Quickstart Program with a bid for $69.95. That included:

  • 1 Shake Mix – French Vanilla
  • Multivitamins (90 tabs)
  • Herbal Tea Concentrate
  • Cell Activator (60 tabs)

I have no idea what all this stuff is, but I’m annoyed. The U.S. weight-loss industry sees annual revenues of $20 billion, according to ABC News. This industry includes products like diet books, diet drugs, and weight-loss surgeries. I would also imagine that it includes gym memberships and meal replacement programs like Herbalife. Seen from this perspective, it’s easy to deduce that people are making tons of money off those who struggle with their weight. And, to me, that’s nothing short of sad.

At this point, I have very little respect for those who sell products like Herbalife and Mona Vie. They're touted as the answer to all our weight loss problems, but what happens after you come off these programs? It can’t be healthy to just drink shakes and juice for the rest of your life. So is it okay to regain the weight you previously lost because these industry leaders have already made their money off you?

A Possible Solution

I’m tired of being exploited by companies like these, and, by this, I don’t mean me personally, but those who are like me. And I’m tired of nobody providing long-term solutions that explain why you let yourself go in the first place. We need to understand how to improve our mental health so we’re free to be physically healthy once more.

I know some people get comfortable throughout the course of their lives; they find somebody to love who loves them in return and don’t feel the need to be thin and glamorous. I definitely respect that, but I think there’s another group of people who don’t respect themselves or have suffered some personal trauma, and they turn to food for comfort.

Overweight individuals don't need a “delicious”weight-loss shake; they need emotional support to help them change the way they see themselves. A solution like this, one that is affordable and practical, might eliminate the ridiculously over-priced weight loss industry once and for all.


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1 Comment

  • Well I sell herbalife and the reason you could not see the product prices is because it is more less run by independant distributors and has very strict advertising regulations. we can only advertise to people we speak to directly. The shake mix contains a good amoutn of your daily vitamins as well as protein and fiber and we recommend you add more fruits or veggies to it. so even though it is more or less a "milk shake" it is healthy and full of vitamins and nutrients. majority of food now does not have as much nutrients as we need do to processing. The cell activator contains aloe ver whcih aids in absorbtion of nutrients as well as keeping your body heathly. It is a natural antibiotic, antiinflammatory, antiviral, antiseptic and much more. the green tea give you antioxidants which help your body combat stress and cell damage caused by free radicals. I do understand your frustration. Some people are just sales pitching others know the products value. I have worked for GNC, different health food stores and am currently a distributor for herbalife and one thing I hate being pushed to do is sell sell sell. that was my biggest petpeave with GNC they pushed you sell certain products even though they said they wanted you to help the customer find something specifically for them for their needs and would get mad if I sold a protein or supplement that was not GNC because it threw off numbers or why I didn't' try and add another product too it. I can understand your frustration just be patient. there are people that genuinly want to help people feel better and that is why they suggest a product.

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