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Media Influence on Weight Loss

By Kay Ireland ; Updated July 18, 2017

Any time you turn on the TV, you're almost immediately bombarded with images of perfect bodies, commercials for weight loss products and even weight loss reality shoes. Hollywood's take and coverage of weight loss and the ideal body type can shape your own opinion of weight loss, how effective weight loss can be and how fast weight can be shed. Unrealistic expectations for your body and weight loss journey can only cause you to fail; understanding how the media skew the truth can help you to have a healthier attitude about losing weight.

Celebrity Endorsement

When you see a celebrity whom you admire talking about the effectiveness of a weight loss supplement, exercise product or book, it's easy to buy into whatever they're helping to sell. When you look up to a certain celebrity or want to emulate her, you're more likely to purchase a product that she endorses. 2009 guidelines for the Federal Trade Commission say a celebrity endorser must disclose her relationship as a paid actor for a product, but the statement isn't always clear. Celebs have the power to sway you toward a certain product, regardless of its effectiveness.

Enhancement and Airbrushing

One of the largest problems with the media and weight loss is unrealistic expectations brought about using airbrushing, Photoshopping and enhancements made to ads before they go to press. Fashion magazines, commercials and even websites have complete jurisdiction over the images they run. What looks like the perfect body as a result of using a diet supplement might really only be a clever airbrushing job. As the old adage goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Public Perception

When a famous starlet drops the baby weight or an actor gains and loses weight quickly for a role, it can create a perception that weight loss is simple, easy and fast for everyone. Magazines regularly report on the eating habits and exercise routines of famous personalities. What these stars don't tell you is that they have legions of personal trainers, stylists, personal chefs and media personnel working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to keep them looking flawless. This can create an unrealistic perception of how weight loss works, making you feel frustrated when you can't drop the weight and look as good as your favorite star.

Reality Shows

Reality shows are a fairly new development in the media's portrayal of how weight loss works. Reality shows in which contestants compete to lose the largest amount of weight show amazing transformations over the course of a few weeks. When the scale says a contestant has lost 12 lbs. in one week, you might wonder why you can only drop one or two pounds per week. Weight loss realty shows also create and market their own products, with the unspoken promise of similar weight loss success for you at home.

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