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Are Time Bound Weight loss Strategies Practiced By Dietitians Ethical?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010
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Ethical considerations for time bound weight loss strategies
A popular weight loss clinic in the city recently celebrated its 5th anniversary. To commemorate its success, the clinic offered weight loss packages of three, five and ten Kg(s) a month absolutely free to it’s first few lucky customers. Such packages and offers by weight loss and diet clinics have now become a common feature. People yearning to drop their extra baggage are certainly attracted by these quick fix solutions.

This industry that offers diet, health and fitness solutions has now become a result oriented industry. The strategies offered are time bound. Since time is an important factor, erratic diet plans that starve people and exercises that drain them to the core are recommended. Clients are happy with their weight and inch loss achieved in a short time.

But, are these strategies really worthy?



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User Comments

29 August, 2011 | Ranjini | Reply

Ranjini Weight loss through a well monitored naturopathy therapeutic program seems to be effective & efficient as lost weight does not pile up again quckly. How scientific is this when compared to weight loss programs pratised in modern clinics?

14 June, 2011 | kaushik | Reply

kaushik What is the difference between being a Nutritionist and being a dietitian, when are they both eligible to practise legally?

16 June, 2011 | Poonam | Reply

Poonam Hello Mr Kaushik,
This is a common query and sometimes the difference between the a nutritionist and dietitian is very slight. The basic education for both the professions remains the same.
Dietitians usually work in the medical field and plan appropriate diets for different health conditions whereas nutritionists are specialists who concentrate on food & nutrition science, preventive nutrition and nutritional deficiencies.
A dietitian needs to either be further qualified in the field of dietetics alongwith an intership in a hospital or be liscensed to be able to practice. This is not necessary for a nutritionist who may become an educator or work in the industry or community.

13 September, 2010 | Suman Chopra | Reply

Suman Chopra Can you suggest some ways by which a consumer can come to know that what is being recommended by dietitians in weight loss clinics is healthy and scientifically approved or not?

15 September, 2010 | Rita Bhargava | Reply

Rita Bhargava Dear Suman,
Diet plans that restrict calorie intake drastically are not safe. Also, don’t follow blindly what the dietitians in weight loss centers say in hope to lose weight quickly. Be rational in your approach. If you find that any particular group like rice\chapati is totally missing from the day’s plan or menu plans like eating 8-9 apples\banana in a day, then you should always question them. Healthy weight loss plan will never exclude any food group completely.

15 September, 2010 | Kanika Jain | Reply

Kanika Jain Dear Suman,
For healthy weight loss, well balanced diet (including all food groups) along with adequate physical activity is necessary.Some tips that can help you to recognize whether diet plan or weight loss programme is healthy or not are
-Unhealthy\fad diets usually over emphasize one particular food group like fruits or vegetables or may exclude one or two food group like cereal or pulse completely.
- Diets that set out a very limited selection of foods to be eaten at a specific time and day.
-Weight loss programme\diet plans that claim that you need not to exercise in order to lose weight.
- Weight loss of not more than 1\2 kg per week is considered scientifically safe. Any plan\weight loss programme claiming faster weight loss may not be healthy one.

Thanks and regards,
Kanika Jain

11 September, 2010 | Anvesha Bannerji | Reply

Anvesha Bannerji Hi Pallavi,
You are absolutely right, I also used to work in a popular weight loss clinic for almost 4 years. This is what the ground reality is. Most of dietitians working in slimming centers’ know that some diets plans are not healthy but still they have to resort to those to give results.

But what is the solution for this? Until and unless all dietitians working in weight loss industry be it gym\slimming centers’, come together and raise their concern nothing is going to change. But this itself is a mammoth task as they cannot challenge employers.

11 September, 2010 | Pallavi Sethi | Reply

Pallavi Sethi I agree that time bound weight loss strategies followed by dietitians may not be based on sound scientific principles. But before questioning what or why they are doing so, we need to understand full picture of slimming industry first. All companies in this market are very profit and result oriented. In order to sell packages, many a times unrealistic promises are made to customer (both related to time and weight) by sales representatives. But ultimately dietitians are expected to give promised results by any means.
So in my opinion, most of the dietitians in weight loss industry do realize that what they are doing is not scientifically correct but other factors like management policies also have influence on it.

06 September, 2010 | Jhanvi | Reply

Jhanvi Consumer education and awareness can also play a role in this. Until and unless they are aware about healthy balanced diet or healthy weight loss or that scientifically not more than half kg weight loss per week is healthy weight loss then how would they even question what the dietitian is doing? Most of the clients in weight loss clinics are concerned about quick weight loss and not strategies adopted for the same by the dietitians. So there is a need to create awareness amongst them too.

07 September, 2010 | Poonam | Reply

Poonam I agree, you have raised a valid point here. Consumers are aware that they must lose weight to improve their healh, but it is mandatory to publicise the fact that very quick weight loss is has the reverse effect on their health.

07 September, 2010 | Sangeetha Narayana Swamy | Reply

Sangeetha Narayana Swamy I completely agree with Poonam, the consumers must be made aware that losing weight in a jiffy or with the help of vibrators and simulators cannot be sustained for a long period of time. It will bounce back once they start eating normally and stop using those gadgets. What is more important is the awareness about healthy eating and minimal physical activity that will go a long way in weight loss and also in maintaining a healthy body and soul.

24 August, 2010 | Geetanjali Kelkar | Reply

Geetanjali Kelkar The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has released a new position stand(2009) “Appropriate Physical Activity Intervention Strategies for Weight loss and Prevention of Weight regain for adults. The focus is on use of strength training to improve lean mass and reduce fat mass and also improve muscle and bone mass. Specific guidelines are recommended to
(1)Prevent weight Gain,
(2) Promote weight loss and
(3) Weight maintenance after weight loss.

It appears prudent for all the nutritionists, dietitians and all those who work at weight loss clinics, to review the guidelines , adopt and apply them to their clients to attain safe, sure and permanent weight loss devoid any side effects.

21 August, 2010 | Mrinal | Reply

Mrinal Dear Swarna,
Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. Please don't stress yourself out, you will make a beautiful bride.

So, lets try and pinpoint how much weight you want to lose - keeping in mind that you MUST eat healthy to keep your skin glowing and looking fresh.

Our dietitians will advise you shortly that the sensible way is for the next two months to reduce your portion size and increase your exercise factor.

One of them will contact you shortly to offer you some personalized tips.

Regarding this vibrating machine etc, your gut instinct that is making you question the efficacy of such a contraption is correct.

Is this facility authorized by a governmental body or is it a private money making enterprise.

1. How can vibrating body fat make it melt???
2. Be careful with an all liquid diet that doesnt recommend balanced nutrition.

Just fruits and vegetables will not provide you essential proteins and grains and you might develop diarrhea.

Lastly, stressing yourself out and depriving your body of essential nutrients can make you irritable and moody - when you should be carefree and happy at this time.

Keep smiling!

21 August, 2010 | Sangeetha Narayana Swamy | Reply

Sangeetha Narayana Swamy We should have a council to govern the practice of Dietitians/Nutritionists too. There should be bye-laws that clearly state the terms and conditions of ethical practice. All the dietitians who interact/counsel with the patients should be registered with the council and stringent actions should be taken against people who do not adhere to ethical practices.

21 August, 2010 | Sangeetha Narayana Swamy | Reply

Sangeetha Narayana Swamy Dear Swarna,

Congratulations on your wedding. Every bride wants to look at her best on the D-day. You can enroll for our "Obesity Reduction Program", where we will guide you to lose about 2-3 kgs of weight per month. We at NV provide a scientific approach, a healthy menu and good physical activity that will aid in weight loss. A healthy diet and exercise regimen will not only make you lose weight but also make your skin and hair glow.

Kindly register with us on and start the program asap.

21 August, 2010 | Swarna Patel | Reply

Swarna Patel I want to lose weight desperately as I am getting married in 2 months time. I am also extremely busy at work and a lot of time is also lost in commuting.I just joined a popular weight loss clinic cum gym, where they say they will use some vibrators and rays which is supposed to melt the fat in the body? Can body fat really melt and we lose weight? I am advised to drink only fruit or vegetable juice, plenty of vegetables. Is this scientific?

21 August, 2010 | Poonam | Reply

Poonam Most of these clinics provide quick fix solutions. They are more keen to show quick results in an effort to grab more consumers. The weight loss is usually not long term and the client bounces back to his/her earlier weight; sometimes more than before. Then they go to another programme and the story repeats itself. They thus get into a vicious circle. I think alongwith guidelines for weight loss clinics, mass awareness campaigns for the public are equally important.

20 August, 2010 | Rachna | Reply

Rachna Hi,
Every second day a new player is entering the slimming industry giving rise to fight over share of clients.Ultimately, it is the dietitians whose ethics are being kept at stake. Even if they don’t want to resort to fad diets or other methods, which may not be the ideal way to lose weight, they still have to follow it to help clients achieve weight loss in stipulated (promised) time.

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