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Smokescreens, lies and marketing bull…

There is a lot of disingenuous, deceitful and totally misleading information being promoted online in the name of so-called healthy living.

Let’s start with a hypothetical example.

Imagine a bodybuilder who built a huge, powerful, heavily-muscular physique over a period of years taking anabolic steroids, growth hormone and weekly testosterone shots. After a decade of this, he quits all the drugs and goes clean. Six months later he does a photo shoot and interview for a magazine, posing his huge muscles and claiming “See what clean, natural bodybuilding looks like!” and the interview is full of talk about how he is ‘clean’ and doesn’t take steroids. The interview conveniently neglects to talk about his decade taking steroids, and focuses instead on how he is ‘natty’ or ‘clean’ and doesn’t use drugs. The interview implores young lifters reading that they too can look like this guy if they lift hard and stay away from steroids.

Of course, the ‘stay away from drugs’ message is great, but the article is bullshit, outright lies. The guy is promoted as ‘clean’ when his physique was built on a decade of steroid use, and there is no way other lifters could ever reach his size without the same level of ‘chemical enhancement’ that he used.

Now, this is a hypothetical example, but the reality is that these disingenuous marketing tricks are used in diet and health promotion every day. You might say ‘sure but what harm is it doing…promoting the no drugs message is good, so why not let it be?’ and of course I would agree that promoting the ‘no drugs’ message is good. But that same magazine packs every other page with adverts for protein shakes and other supplements, selling these products to readers who want to emulate the physiques they see in the articles. It’s selling false promises, in my opinion.

No smoke without fire

If someone smoked for 40 years, then felt rough one day and decided to quit, then three years later was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer…well, would you blame the smoking? Right, of course you would. He or she may not have been puffing on a cigarette during the 15 minutes before being told the fatal diagnosis, but anyone can see the 40 years of smoking, despite the three years they quit, is the likely underlying cause.

Yet we see this flawed logic being used every day to promote certain diets, lifestyles, supplements and so on.

Let’s check out a great real life example.

The vegan bodybuilder

In 2014 PETA, the sometimes-infamously-aggressive People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (as it goes, I am very much in favour of treating animals ethically) started using a vegan bodybuilder by the name of Jim Morris to advertise the health benefits of a vegan lifestyle.

They photographed his lean, muscular 77-yr old physique and made posters proclaiming Read more