Infomercial weight loss - hot or not?

02 May 14 11:27AM EST
Post by Karina Bray  Karina Bray Google Plus
I love TV home shopping shows - for about 30 seconds. After that I vacillate between fleeting credulity, overwhelming incredulity and coma-inducing boredom. However, since I'm always on the lookout for interesting consumer products, I suffer through them.

The latest gizmo to catch my eye was Hot Shapers. These tight fitting exercise pants make you “sweat, sweat, sweat and sweat more”. The "before and after" pics interspersed with images of sweat, sweat, sweat imply that you sweat yourself slim.

It's claimed the pants will raise your core body temperature. Now as it happens, when it’s hot, your body expends more energy than usual to cool you down. However, whether the extra energy burnt is a useful contribution to weight loss is debatable.

Indeed, when you read the fine print on their website, you’ll discover you only actually lose weight, get slim and “maximise fitness routines” by following the recommended diet and exercise program. So the pants just make you hot and sweaty and - according to reviews - noisy when you walk.

My curiosity now aroused, I looked at Zaggora HotPants, which were intriguing because they included actual numbers from tests.

The company claims you’ll burn 11% more energy while exercising (this was the best average result – other tests showed 6 % and 9.7%) and 12.5% afterwards (you have to wear them for half an hour after you’ve stopped).

So, some ballpark calculations… In 30 minutes of vigorous exercise, a 65kg woman might burn 1260kJ. So 11% is another 140kJ. Then there’s the ‘afterburn’ – the period after exercising where you’re burning more energy than usual, called Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). As a rough estimate, after 30 minutes of vigorous cardiovascular exercise, EPOC could be as high as 100kJ calories in that recommended first half an hour afterwards, so an extra 12.5% will give you up to another 13kJ.

All up then, you’ll be 153kJ better off at best - or approximately one plain biscuit. If you don’t eat the biscuit, you will lose an extra 1kg after wearing them about 200 times, and if you wear them for vigorous exercise every day this will take about six months – obviously longer if the exercise is light or moderate, or the energy-burning isn’t as high as the best results in Zaggora’s tests; and shorter if you’re heavier and therefore burn more energy… but you get the idea.

These aren’t the first pants that claim to help you lose weight by sweating - plastic or rubber ‘sauna suits’ have been used for decades by boxers, wrestlers and other athletes who need to make weight quickly. You do lose weight, but it’s all water, and you gain it back when you rehydrate.

All in all, it sounds like you’d be better off skipping the Hot Shapers and just sticking with a healthy eating and exercise plan.

Which home shopping or infomercial health and fitness products have you tried? What was the verdict?


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