England’s most senior doctor has warned people that quick-fix diets, high street remedies and weight loss pills are “too good to be true”.
After festive excesses, many people try to turn over a new leaf with pledges to lose weight, exercise more and drink less in a bid to beat the bulge.
NHS medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, says it’s right to try to get in shape, but warned people to avoid turning to fads including diet pills, ‘tea-toxes’ and appetite suppressant products, which are at best ineffective and sometimes can be harmful.
The medic’s intervention follows calls earlier this year for social media firms to crack down on influential celebrities posting misleading ‘get fit quick’ adverts, prompting Instagram and Facebook to restrict endorsements of risky products.
Products claiming to help people lose weight quickly while reducing appetite and fatigue can in fact have damaging side effects including diarrhoea, heart problems and even lead to unplanned pregnancies by interfering with oral contraception.
With one in four young people saying their appearance is their top concern, Professor Powis has warned that easy availability of quick-fix products online and on the high street – including buy one get one free offers – could play on people’s body image anxiety.
He said: “It’s always a good time to try to get in shape, and new year’s resolutions are a great time to make a change, but the reality is there’s a slim chance of success with diet pills and detox teas – and people could end up doing more harm than good.
“Making new year goals and shifting a few excess pounds after Christmas can be a good idea but is much easier to maintain when done gradually and safely.
“Alongside cutting-edge treatments and improved access to care, the NHS Long Term Plan is helping people to stay in control of their own health, including the revolutionary Diabetes Prevention Programme which helps people to lose weight safely.
“NHS.uk has helpful tips, including a 12-week weight loss plan, alongside recommended apps to help boost fitness.”
The health service is offering its own top tips to help people achieve their new year goals.
Below are some of the most common New Year health resolutions, with links to help you get started and achieve your goal.