Real weight-loss miracle is free - East Valley Tribune: Living Well

Real weight-loss miracle is free

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NSCA certified personal trainer Shannon Sorrels has a bachelor's degree in chemistry and an MBA. Her Ahwatukee-based company, Physix LLC, works with Valley individuals and groups to improve their overall fitness. Reach her at (480) 528-5660 or visit

Posted: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 6:45 am | Updated: 9:56 am, Mon Aug 13, 2012.

What started as a little research to debunk a weight-loss ad ended with me adding 60 minutes to my cell phone bill and filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Follow along as I take you on my unexpected journey.

There’s a TV ad for Lipo-Zap (I changed the name; who knows the legal implications of using the real one), and it drives me nuts. It claims weight-loss benefits that are no better than dieting, which is free. Every time it comes on, I roll my eyes. I know they wouldn’t continue hawking it if people weren’t buying it.

I thought it’d make a good column. Off, then, to the Internet. The Lipo-Zap homepage espoused the same claims as its TV ad. I sought facts to dispel. I wanted the clinical trials they kept quoting. It’s a sporting event to me.

I clicked on everything — “get the facts,” “ingredients” — and there were no studies to be found. So, I called them. What’s the worst that could happen? They’d hang up on me?

Twenty minutes and two phone calls later, all I had was a crick in my neck, an earful of repetitive sales recordings, a few rounds on hold while supervisors were consulted, and a virtual shoulder shrug as to the whereabouts of the “clinical studies.” 

Not to be deterred, I googled the “Fatty Research Institute,” my code name for the group said to have conducted the studies (again, have to look out for those legal ramifications). I found a simple, single-page website created in WordPress. Seriously? They couldn’t go to any more trouble than that?

I backtracked to my search results and found a 2005 FTC news release naming the “Fatty Research Institute” as defendants in a lawsuit involving an old weight-loss product. And what else did I see? The same ingredients noted in the 2005 incident were in the current Lipo-Zap. What the what?

I was perturbed. I called the FTC in Washington, D.C. How could the “Fatty Research Institute” get away with this? I know — a tad naïve, but I felt so Woodward and Bernstein.

The FTC folks were nice. By the end of my call, my inquiry turned into a filed complaint.

There you have it — my tiny, quixotic contribution to health and fitness. What started as curiosity turned into action. Increase your suspicion, fellow weight-loss citizens! Quit shelling out money to these bozos. Make them find something better to do.

• Shannon Sorrels is an NSCA-certified personal trainer and owner of Physix LLC in Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach her at (480) 528-5660 or

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