Tempted by the Latest Fitness Gadget? Do Your Homework

By , SparkPeople Blogger
We’re all familiar with the saying “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”  Yet it’s so easy to get sucked in by the big promises many health and fitness products make.  “Lose 10 pounds a week!”, “Get ripped abs with this one piece of equipment!”, or “Get the body you want without all the effort!” are some of the more extreme examples, but we spend billions of dollars every year hoping there is just a little bit of truth in their claims.  Before you get out your wallet, it’s a good idea to dig into these product claims further.  A new survey investigated the research supporting magazine advertisements and websites for a broad range of sports products.  The results might surprise you.
The analysis, published in the journal BMJ Open, found that of the products studied, not one had claims that could be supported by sound, scientific research.  For example, “one manufacturer of protein drinks and pills, the researchers found, supported advertising claims with a comparative study of the effect of different diets on rat metabolism published in 1930. According to Dr. Thompson (senior author of the study), Coca-Cola, which manufactures Powerade, delivered 10 studies. One was paid for with an unrestricted grant from Coca-Cola, and another written by the director of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute.”  This isn’t to say that the research is invalid, but there’s no way to know whether or not the source of the funding could have an impact on the results.  Ideally, a study will be funded by a source that does not have a vested interest in the results. 
“The researchers examined 615 sports advertisements in magazines. Of these, 54 contained claims that the product enhanced performance, but only three offered references. The 53 Web sites they examined contained 141 references.”  This means that some products cited no references to substantiate their claims, but others did.  For those that did cite references, is it safe to assume their claims are valid?  Not necessarily.  The analysis further investigated the reference citations to see how the research was conducted, whether or not bias could be involved, etc.  84% were judged to be at a high risk of bias, whether because of how they were funded or how they were conducted.  Only three were judged to be high quality and at a low risk of bias (and these three did not test a specific product as an intervention.) 
These results don’t mean that every product claim is false or that all research used to substantiate product claims is unreliable.  But it does emphasize the need to do your homework and be careful when deciding how to spend your money and your time.  Check out 10 Signs a Fitness Gadget is a Gimmick12 Ways to Spot a Fad Diet, and How to Get Ripped Off- Guaranteed for more tips on how to become a more informed consumer.
What do you think?  How do you avoid getting easily sucked in by products that promise big results?

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before i buy anything that's a fad i check it out thoroughly online at many sites. so far it has worked for me. I will never buy anything that is quick weight loss. Report
I'd like to know where I can go to get info on a "standing bike" I'm interested in...don't want to get it if it's just another gimmicky piece of equipment!

I want to know what exercise the woman in the photo is doing. I like the idea of using resistance bands with an exercise ball. Will have to check SparkPeople's exercise list to see if they've added anything like this combo.

As far as getting sucked in to marketing ploys, I'm in that field professionally, so I know not to fall for any of it. Our rule for our daughter when she was little was, if you see it advertised on TV, you can't have it! (It worked too!) We still abide by that rule for ourselves. And, I'm with STEFUNIE: No money to buy anything. Report
Buyer Beware! Report
There are not everything that advertise that you can buy. And again there
are not always money to buy these things. Report
I love my husband but he drives me a little nuts every time he sees something on TV and thinks it would be a good thing to try. My response no matter what, "JUST SAY NO!!!!" Report
Why allow yourself to be taunted that way just switch OFF the TV when those advertisements come on. It's is just like temptation and too many succumb to it in my opinion. Switch off the TV and talk to your family instead. Report
We all want getting and staying in shape to be easy. The inventors and manufacturers know that by making it look fun or easy that they can get our attention and possibly our money. I sure do wish the easy stuff would work but it comes down to hard work, focus on the goal, and commitment! Just think, how often do we see a worn out piece of exercise equipment!?!?!? :-) Report
To good...... Report
I have to laugh, really, because anything that shows up in an Infomercial or gets labeled "As Seen on TV" immediately goes into my mental dumpster to be forgotten. There could be some fantastic gadget out there and I'd never know, never spend money on it, because it would like trying to buy the needle in the haystack without wasting money on they hay. Then again, the whole point is that I don't "NEED" those in order to become more fit.

(In fact, one of the huge red lights to me is "used along with a healthy diet and exercise program". Said healthy diet and exercise program will already do the work I want done. I don't need to get there faster by spending money hoping to find a legitimate gadget.) Report
PT Barnum said there was a sucker born every minute. There was a man who knew a little something about hucksterism. We all know that weight loss is a slow steady process that takes time. However, there are still far too many people who ARE looking for that quick fix. They do want that miracle pill that will make the fat disappear overnight. As long as there are people looking for that quick fix, there will be people buying these products.

Do they work ? In one form or another, most of the gimics work in some way, just not exactly the way they promise. As the teeny tiny print says at the bottom of the page,"results not typical".

Personally, I'm too cheap to buy any of these products. Although, if the price comes down far enough, I might buy the product out of curiosity.

Just because the US military uses something does not mean it is actually useful. I've seen that machine and am wondering what makes it so expensive. I've a stair-stepper, weight machine, and elliptical that does everything that this thing does. I paid less than five hundred for the three items and a stationary bicycle. Report
there are very few gadgets that I have bought.... it took me forever to break down and buy a nice jump rope (by nice i mean $8) instead of using a rope with washers on the ends. Report
I wait and see the reviews and results, then if I'm still interested, I search craigslist and ebay to see if I can pick it up for free or a much lower cost Report
yeah. like you say - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Report
I don't trust any gadget that doesn't involve hard work (body weight, free weights, resistance bands, and a ball are all I need) or any weight loss product that doesn't involve whole, close to the source foods. End of story. I'm a sucker for dvds from trainers I trust, though.... Report
I'm to frugal to waste money on those things, but my adult children did spend the money for the P90X DVDs and have done the workouts with GREAT results. My third son has been working out now for a year and a half and does the P90X2 and he loves it. So, they have been worth the money. He bought a 50# weight vest with 5# pieces and he loves using it, so that was a good investment. I love my Kettlebells and would like to buy more of them, but just have two for now. Report
-think I will only get something if I really hear it is good from a lot of sources and I can buy it 2nd hand .. Report
Most of us ARE the study: how many pieces of equipment became clothes hangers or are sitting in a closet or drawer somewhere?! None of them are worth buying if you aren't going to use them! Report
no problem- i reach into my wallet and theres nothing there so I cant buy it Report
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