Weight loss and Fitness Products: Are they really ethical?
by CC0220 on April 7, 2015 - 2:18pm
Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by advertisement. In fact, research show that the average American is exposed to about 3,000 ads every day (Media Relations, Inc. 1). Nowadays, a great amount of those ads are related to fitness and weight loss. Everyone has heard or seen an ad claiming that a certain product will make you lose 10 pounds in a week or make your muscles grow without you having to exercise. Since these types of advertisements are so present in our everyday lives, it is a good idea to ask oneself whether the representations of weight loss and fitness products in the media are ethical. The way companies try to sell those products are subject to that question, as well as the image and the ideal of beauty that these products reinforce.
First, the selling techniques of companies trying to sell people weight loss products or fitness related machines are not always ethical, and their ads can be quite persistent and aggressive. Those ads most often come in either one of those three forms: television ad, radio ad or poster ad. Television ads are often trying to sell costumers fitness products (for example, the “Ab-Doer Twist), while radio ads and poster ads are usually more inclined towards advertising weight loss products (Garcinia Cambogia for example). However, one thing that all those ads have in common is the lack of information they provide. Companies try to sell those products, weight loss or fitness related, by telling the consumers all about the benefits their products can offer, but they never inform the costumers about the potential negative effects of those products, or really tell the consumers how to use those products in order to get maximal results. Most of the time, the only thing these companies recommend is to use the products they are advertising while on a “low-caloric diet and high exercise plan”. However, they do not provide any information as to what a low-caloric diet should be like and do not give any examples of exercise plan. This type of advertisement of these products does not follow the 5-point test for ethical advertisement because not only do they not provide enough information for the costumers to understand what the products do, and therefore do not help the costumers make appropriate decisions, but they also often do not allow the costumers any time to reflect. A lot of times, mainly on television ads but also on radio ads, those companies will tell you that you have a certain amount of time, rarely more than 10 minutes, to call if you want to buy their products and that after this short period of time, the product will not be available to you anymore. This tactic is not ethical because it pushes the costumers to make a decision without according him or her the time necessary to weigh the pro and cons of buying the said product, and instead rushes people into buying products they might not truly have wanted or needed.
Second, the women and men portrayed in those ads reinforce the idea that in order to be beautiful, a woman needs to be thin and a man needs to be big and muscular. Those companies therefore reinforce ideals of beauty, which are not attainable for the average person, but try to convince costumers that with their products, they can get closer to this ideal. Not only is this false advertising, since as mentioned earlier those companies do not provide all necessary information, but it can also be detrimental to the mental health and self-esteem of many who see those advertisements every day. For may women and men, seeing or hearing ads everyday telling them that they need to burn fat and have toned bodies in order to look good can feel like they are not good enough and pretty enough, and being repeatedly exposed to this kind of advertisement reinforces this idea. The representations of those products in the media, especially the weight loss products, reinforce the misrepresentation of women in the media, and tell women that in order to be beautiful, they have to be thin. The same goes for the men. The aggressive advertisement campaigns for fitness products reinforce the image of men in the media, and make men in society that they need to be bulky and muscular to be considered real men.
To conclude, the representations of weight loss products in the media are not ethical for a few reasons. The advertisement themselves are not ethical because they do not respect the 5-point test for ethical advertising given that they do not provide necessary information nor time for the costumers to make the right decision. Also, the image that these products give to society are not ethical in that they simply reinforce the impossible ideals of beauty set by Hollywood.
Author Unknown. The Average American is Exposed to…web. April 5th 2015. http://www.publicity.com/advicetips/the-average-american-is-exposed-to/