Diet clinic shadow shop

We investigate diet programs and uncover confusing advice as well as aggressive sales tactics.
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02.Cohen's Lifestyle Clinic


The Cohen’s program is described as a rapid fat and weight loss diet. According to the US-based Dr Cohen, re-balancing hormones via the correct nutrition for each individual is critical to weight loss. After a blood test, each client “follows a diet precisely calibrated to meet their body's needs”.

The CHOICE shadow shoppers visited a clinic to make enquiries about joining up and attended a one-on-one information session with a Cohen’s consultant. 

Emma was told:

  • According to her height and shoe size, she ideally should weigh between 54-57kgs
  • She could expect to lose up to seven kilos in two weeks
  • She displayed symptoms of “obesity syndrome” such as bloating and low energy
  • Not to bother with exercise as it doesn’t cause weight loss.

Andrew was not weighed, measured, asked what he weighed or asked if he was on medication. He also says there was a lot of talk in the presentation about human growth hormones and obesity syndromes that didn’t seem to make sense.

Katherine was told:

  • The process of working out her personalised diet couldn’t be divulged
  • If she didn’t follow the right “doses” of food she wouldn’t lose weight 
  • The consultant checked if she was on medication and told her about vegetarian options for the program 
  • In terms of how much weight would be lost, Katherine was told that her body would “know” when it was at the right weight because “that’s when you start to feel hungry”.

The experts’ opinions

Our experts were unhappy with the advice from the Cohen Clinic. “This advice borders on irresponsible, misleading, and negligent, particularly when recommending such rapid and dramatic weight loss, especially in the case of someone (Emma) with an otherwise healthy weight,” says Hay.

Barclay and Melanie McGrice say there is no such thing as “obesity syndrome” and are concerned by the statements about avoiding exercise. “Discouraging physical activity is not the type of recommendations a health professional should be making, and I can’t believe she’s using scare tactics for someone who is healthy into thinking that she has an ‘obesity syndrome’,” says McGrice.

Barclay says the amount and rate of weight loss on this program are of concern and that this kind of diet regime will lead to a loss of water and lean muscle mass, which can ultimately slow the metabolism.


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