02/15/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Weight Loss Porn

I am upset about some of the weight loss scams out there. I was at the book store recently and saw a book titled something like, 32 Pounds in 32 Days. There are weight loss ads everywhere that promise "25 pounds in 25 days without diet or exercise." There are countless infomercials with gadgets and products that promise quick, permanent weight loss. It is criminal.

When I say criminal, I really mean it. I was once a guest on the show Penn and Teller: Bullshit. They interviewed an infomercial producer who was upfront in saying that these bogus weight loss companies simply put aside several million dollars, of the multi-millions they make selling fake weight loss aids to you, to pay for the law suits that come in from the few who take the time and trouble to protest the fact that they just bought a bogus product. Meanwhile, they are pocketing millions in profit because you bought their product hoping for a miracle.

There may actually be some people who can lose 32 pounds in 32 days. Since the human body must deficit 3,500 calories to lose a pound of fat, if you weigh 500 pounds (and are a woman) you need 5,000 calories a day to maintain your weight. If you drop down to 1,500 calories a day, you can lose a pound a day. There are very few of us who weigh enough that we could deficit 3,500 calories a day and actually lose a pound a day. That is the only way to lose a pound of fat, by the way.

I am equally upset at all the "weight loss experts" out there. Beware of them and check them out before you take advice from anyone on weight loss. Doctors may call themselves weight loss experts but please keep in mind that until very recently, doctors received little or no training in nutrition, eating, weight loss, emotional eating or healthy eating. There is only now one portion of one class, for the first year medical students, devoted to obesity and weight. The doctors practicing today got none of that in their medical school training. Not to say that they couldn't study and train themselves to be experts, but just the fact that someone is an M.D. does not make them a weight loss expert.

Please, if you want to lose weight and keep it off, educate yourself. Read all you can from reputable sources. Know that licensed psychologists, psychiatrists and psychotherapists, with specialized training in eating disorders, are qualified to help you if you have real problems with your eating. Certified nutritionists and registered dietitians have specialized knowledge in food, eating and designing diets. Doctors, life coaches, personal trainers, gurus, yoga teachers, hypnotherapists, meditation teachers and writers do not. That is not to say that a writer (or any of the above I just listed) can't do excellent research and present a good book, article, blog on weight loss, they can, but they themselves are not licensed experts qualified to treat eating disorders.

In order to be truly successful with your weight, you must take control and take responsibility. Please don't buy into the quick weight loss schemes, books and gadgets that are making many people rich and leaving you that much poorer. Weight loss requires that you take in less calories then you burn. That is it. Don't believe anything else.

That's it for now. Good luck and let me know how you're doing.

If you'd like to participate in the research for Irene's new book on the psychological process of weight loss, please visit and take the survey.