Diet clinic shadow shop

We investigate diet programs and uncover confusing advice as well as aggressive sales tactics.
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06.CHOICE verdict


If you're keen to lose weight, check out these practical first steps before signing up to any weight loss program.

  • Speak with your GP Many offer weight loss and healthy lifestyle advice and refer you onto a suitable health professional such as a dietician or exercise physiologist. They can also do a health assessment and run any necessary tests.
  • Consult a dietician University trained, all accredited practising dieticians can provide sound dietary advice, and many specialise in weight loss. If you have a chronic health problem such as diabetes or arthritis you may be eligible for a government rebate. Check for a dietician in your area at Dieticians Association of Australia.
  • Check the credentials If you’re keen on a program, check it’s a member of the Weight Management Council of Australia. Membership requires a rigorous assessment, including of the program or product, advertising material, consumer affairs processes, staff training and compliance. Weight Watchers Australia and Jenny Craig are members of the council.

Experts respond to bad advice

Here’s a sample of just some of the stranger dietary advice our shadow shoppers were given out in the field. Our experts provide their counter-opinions.

You should eat according to your blood type

There’s no convincing scientific evidence to support the blood type diet. – Dr Alan Barclay

Exercise will not help you lose weight (even on a calorie-controlled diet)

Absurd. Body weight (or fat deposits) is a balance of energy in and energy out of the body. If more energy comes in, the body will store it as fat. If we burn more energy through exercise than we take in, the body uses the fat to meet the energy requirements. – Dr Sam Hay

Cow’s milk is designed to turn little cows into big cows. If you don’t want to turn into a big cow, don’t have dairy

Milk, especially skim milk, is low in fat, low in kilojoules, rich in protein and very rich in a wide variety of nutrients. – Melanie McGrice

Don’t eat fruit – it’s full of carbs. Eat a protein bar instead

The brand of protein bar suggested has double the carbs of an average (150g) piece of fruit and three times the kilojoules. – Melanie McGrice

All weight loss occurs when you are sleeping

Although sleeping disorders have been shown to contribute to weight gain, there’s no evidence to suggest all weight loss occurs at night. – Melanie McGrice


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