Lose weight by sitting down?
I was highly sceptical about a full page advert that has been appearing in the local papers for a product called 'Sit and Slim'. Having seen Dragon's Den last weekend I'm now wondering whether I should report them to the Advertising Standards Agency.
The product is a combination of a massage chair and an audio tape, and the company really does claim that you can lose weight sitting down. Apparently, in order to use the system, you have to enrol at a local centre at a cost of over £600 per year.
The founder of the company was roundly criticised by the Dragons. He seemed incapable of answering questions about his business plan and didn't know how many people had enrolled at the differing rates. But the most telling thing was his reaction when asked whether there was any scientific basis for his claims.
He kept saying that a hospital somewhere was carrying out tests, but he had to be pushed hard to acknowledge that there was no evidence to back his assertions. And yet the advert in this week's Kingston Guardian (page 12) states unequivocally "NHS Trial Proves Sit & Slim Chair Works".
There is also an article about it in the paper on page 3. I'm not sure whether he lives locally, but he has a centre in New Malden.
I have checked his NHS Trial claim. It seems that he did not have results from the trials when the programme was recorded, but now that he has got his 'evidence' it is not all it seems. Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust was given a chair which was tested on 18 members of staff for a 3 month period each. Of these 12 lost weight and 4 gained weight.
To quote from the Norwich Evening News: Vicky Stone, one of the trust’s physiotherapists, said the trial results were not “statistically valid” or rigorous, but they do offer the health and wellbeing board an insight into whether the chairs could continue to help staff and reduce sickness rates, and if they could even possibly be used for patients in the future.
In other words, it was not a controlled experiment and not a formal NHS trial, although the anecdotal evidence could certainly be a trigger for more detailed investigations into the promoter's claims. It certainly does not justify the "NHS Trial Proves ..." headline in the advert.
Now before anyone jumps in and tells me that his idea does have some merit, I would say that I think I do understand what this is about. Having lost 3 stone in a matter of 8 months recently, I do know that the most important thing was getting the psychology right. Motivation was crucial, as was a positive attitude to the process, and a determination not to demonise food. So sitting in a massage chair, listening to some positive thinking on an audio tape, could possibly help some people to find the motivation they need. Indeed, it is a form of hypnotherapy, but without the professional hypnotist.
But the ad says this: "We understand that you may be sceptical about losing weight by simply sitting on a Sit & Slim therapeutic wellbeing chair, most people are." Note simply.
Yes, I am sceptical. At some point you have got to get out of that chair, shop for suitable food, count calories, carbs or fat units, and get some exercise. Nothing else works.