Confusion over Clarity…Lots of “information” — not much help

Four examples for your Monday morning reading pleasure

Just in the past few days, I have been inundated with tons of information about health and weight-loss — the kind of information that continues to reinforce the “confusion over clarity” that Dr. Campbell spoke about in The China Study. 

Kirstie Alley, the Jenny Craig role model for weight-loss

1. New York Times article on celebrity weight-loss advertising. This was a lengthy article exploring the problem that advertisers have when their paid “celebrities” put the weight back on. There is a link to that article below, but I wouldn’t recommend that you waste your time reading it. A brief excerpt:

Famous people, however, play out their weight struggles under glaring lights. It’s hard to forget commercials of the actress and former Jenny Craig spokeswoman Kirstie Alley lustily drooling over the program’s sanctioned fettuccine, or of her triumphant disrobing on “Oprah” to reveal her new bikini body in pantyhose.

It’s equally hard to forget photos of Ms. Alley, after regaining the lost weight and then some, again on “Oprah”: this time more conservatively dressed and contrite. Or, more recently, falling with an audible thud during a lift on “Dancing With the Stars.”

A ton of information -- but not much clarity when it comes to promoting health.

2. The September issue of Men’s Health magazine. You may be wondering why I subscribe to this magazine. It’s only so that I can stay up to date with the reality of what’s out there — it also had a neat “fashion section” this month; something that appeals to me as a former fashion executive with Ralph Lauren. But for true health promotion, I would give this magazine an F grade.

Case in point: “12 Perfect Muscle Foods” read the article headline on the cover. The article itself on page 94 was entitled Lose the Last 10. Blast that last bit of fat with this meal-by-meal plan. With a meal plan that includes at least one form of animal protein at at every meal, Dr. Esselstyn would tell you that following this plan will ensure that you develop heart disease.

Sprinke - Eat - Lose Weight; another medical doctor with another fad weight-loss system

3. The Sensa Weight-Loss System. Here we go again, another medical doctor (Dr. Alan Hirsch) has come up with a gimmick diet for the masses out there who will always be looking for a way to lose weight without giving up their favorite foods. I stumbled across a TV infomercial last night and the only reason I watched even five seconds of it was so that I could tell you about it. With a very slick website at, here’s the pitch:

Lose 30+ pounds without dieting. Sprinkle on your food, Eat and enjoy, Lose weight.

Here’s how one independent review described the product. “Sensa is a diet aid that claims to help people lose weight fast. Sensa is basically a diet aid and appetite suppressant that is supposed to help people lose weight by cutting down the amount of food they eat. It should reduce the amount of food people want to eat by making the body think it is full, helping people lose weight without feeling hungry and depressed.”

So I checked out the reviews on Amazon. There were a total of 12 reviews; 5 of them were “5 stars” (excellent) and 7 of them were “1 star (terrible). Makes you wonder who paid the first five people. Here’s what one of the unhappy people had to say:

I tried the product for 3 weeks, stopping in time to return it for my money back. Although there is no mention of specific side effects in the literature that came with the product, I experienced (highly acidic and burning) diarrhea when I used the amount recommended. I did not experience any weight loss during this period.

Cool APP -- but pretty much worthless when it comes to promoting health

4. The “Fooducate” App for my iPhone. Actually this is a pretty harmless little tool; but unfortunately it’s not going to help many people improve their health. I downloaded it for free and tried it out on a few grocery items in my kitchen.

Here’s how it works: You use your iPhone to scan the barcode in the grocery store and, when it beeps, you can see a summary of nutritional information on your iPhone. Unfortunately, the information is of little value to me. At least on the Nutrition Facts label on the product, you can compute “in your head” the approximate percent of calories from fat; the Fooducate product does not do that. Cool, but not very helpful as it quickly delivers information on over 200,000 products — with an estimated 99% of them packaged and highly-processed.


No gimmicks here...just leveraging the simple, yet powerful concept of maximizing the percent of your calories from whole plant foods. Simple, positive, flexible and powerful.

So what kind of iPhone App are we going to have for our 4-Leaf Program? My son and I were talking that over recently and agree that we don’t want to have an APP just for the sake of having one. We want it to truly help people promote health and effortlessly lose weight by eating at the 4-Leaf level. We have a few ideas for a helpful APP that deals only with whole, plant-based foods. Stay tuned.

If you like what you see here, you may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4-Leaf page. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

If you’d like to order our book on Amazon,  visit our BookStore now.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at

PS: Occasionally an unauthorized ad may appear beneath a blog post. It is controlled by WordPress (a totally free hosting service). I do not approve or personally benefit whatsoever from any ad that might ever appear on this site. I apologize and urge you to please disregard. 

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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1 Response to Confusion over Clarity…Lots of “information” — not much help

  1. You hit the nail on the head here Jim. There’s so much bad information out there. I’m always drawn to articles like “The ten best food sources for omega-3’s” , “The 5 healthiest brown bag lunches”, etc. I’m sure many others out there are also attracted to these headlines. I would have to say that 99.9% of the time I’m sorrily disappointed by the content of these articles. They usually have some form of fresh fruits or veggies in them but then they thrown in a piece of high fat “healthy” fish or “low fat” turkey deli meat. Obviously, the authors of the articles haven’t researched the vast amount of scientific data out there in regards to health and nutrition. For this reason there are only a few experts such as Dr. Campbell, Fuhrman, Esselstyn, or McDougall that I can truly trust.

    I do see a grassroots movement taking place though and you’re blog and book are a huge part of this effort to educate the masses on the truth when it comes to health and vitality.

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