Why Are So Many Americans Drawn To The Miracle Pill?

Why are so many Americans drawn to the miracle pill? Our forum members give their honest opinion on what they think of the miracle pill, lack of results, justification, negative affects of advertising and more. Read on...


TOPIC: Why Are So Many Americans Drawn To The Miracle Pill?

The Question:

There are constantly new pills hitting the market that promise lower body fat, increased muscle mass, and a younger/healthier body. And if it's not a pill that hit's the market it's a miracle belt that promises 6-pack abs. Although a lot of the sports nutrition supplements are very useful and beneficial, it is clear that many of the "miracle pills" are just over hyped junk.

Why are so many Americans drawn to the miracle pill?

Do they want to blame their lack of results on the diet pill so that they can say they tried or do they really think that the pill is magic?

Does taking a daily diet pill make them feel like they're trying, so that they trick themselves into not worrying about their weight?

Bonus Question: Have you ever fallen into the trap of the "miracle pill?" How did you justify buying and using it?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

    Prizes:
      1st place - 75 in store credit.
      2nd place - 50 in store credit.
      3rd place - 25 in store credit.

To use your credit, e-mail Will @ will@bodybuilding.com for more info.


1st Place - ManInTheBox
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

There are constantly new pills hitting the market that promise lower body fat, increased muscle mass, and a younger/healthier body. And if it's not a pill that hit's the market it's a miracle belt that promises 6-pack abs. Although a lot of the sports nutrition supplements are very useful and beneficial, it is clear that many of the "miracle pills" are just over hyped junk.

We have all seen those advertisements, the miracle diets, the diet pills, the breakthrough exercise machines. It may be easy for someone who experienced in fitness or bodybuilding to shun these ads and call them junk, but there are still millions of people out there who don't know any better, and want the easy way out.

What more could you want? You pop a pill, eat what you want, and you lose weight. We have the technology to do that these days, right? Wrong. Every bit of success that professionals make are made through excruciating, hard work. Strict dieting, grueling training regimens, and furthermore, dedication.

There are hundreds of extremely beneficial dietary supplements out there. The sad part is that there are probably closer to thousands that are remakes of one another's, knockoffs, and some of which work no better than sugar pills.

I could name off countless supplements that are absolute crap, and also magnify their ingredients and show that their components are low quality, but that is not necessary. More importantly, we should look at this situation from a sociological point of view, and try to pinpoint just why we are drawn to these miracle supplements, and want the easy way out.

I would like to specify that this article is NOT anti- American in anyway. Though the title makes it explicit that Americans are the vulnerable victims, the truth is that this same vulnerability is spread throughout the entire world.


The Miracle Pill
Why Are So Many Americans Drawn To The Miracle Pill?

As I said before, I don't think it's America's fault that we are vulnerable in many ways. But there are components that America possesses that does make us more susceptible to buying these supplements.

Technology:

    The first area that I am going to bullet is technology. Americans know that we excel in the area of technology, our hospitals are the best in the world, and we have most of the best doctors, too. Well, this is when Americans tend to get supplements confused with medication. The truth is, supplements are not medication, this means that dosing is up to the user in order to yield good results.

    The most recent, and extremely popular supplement that came out to be unsafe without doctor's approval would be Ephedra. Ephedra is a powerful weight loss supplement that would often be combined with caffeine and aspirin for a hyper weight loss effect.

    Though these stacks proved to be extremely effective, they also were proven to be highly dangerous. Side effects were a mile long, and there is no definite number of deaths that were linked to over the counter usage of Ephedra.

    The other component that America does have is our means of advertisement. Every household has 2.73 televisions. Almost 3 televisions per household, when almost every other country in the world has one or less! America is the inventor of billboards.

    Up and down every street in America, even the smallest of towns, there are billboards posted. The important thing to realize when we look at these signs, commercials, magazine ads, and other means of advertisements, are the people in them, which we will touch base on under the "beauty" bullet.

Time:

    One thing I have studied in many classes I have taken, whether it be economics, consumer education, sociology, psychology, and other "mind" classes, would be the speed at which Americans pace themselves. We expect a lot from ourselves in a short amount of time.

    As I am writing this article, I am on a time schedule to get it done so I can move on to my next task. If any hobby or interest involves time, it would have to be bodybuilding! We want results fast, we don't want to wait!

    I am fortunate that early on, I never heavily emphasized supplementation, and did not search for miracle pills to get me to my goal. But after awhile, sometimes you just feel that something needs to change.

    So we go into our local health food store or supplement shop and look for a pill, powder, or liquid that is going to get us to where we want to be. There are powders made for weight loss. There are powders made for weight gain. There are pills made for weight loss.

    There are capsules even made for maintaining muscle mass. We have it all in America, our prices are good, and the quality is good. The hard part is knowing what is legitimate, and what is crap.

    As I am writing this, I am seeing a commercial for a product called "Zone Pilates". They specifically say it only takes a few short minutes a day to see results within weeks. Not to mention that all of these products emphasize how cheap their products are. Of course this is not a supplement, but goes along directly with our problem of time in America.

    I once watched a movie in sociology called, The Gods Must Be Crazy. This movie basically compared life for bushmen in a remote part of Africa to life in the bustling cities of America. There is a huge difference when it comes to the speed at which we live our lives here in America and other parts of the world, this element makes America vulnerable to the 48 hour diets, the beach diets, the weight loss pills, and the muscle building powders.

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Beauty:

    As I briefly touched on earlier, America's perception of beauty is very different than how other countries see it. I decided to do a search on Google image search, and search "beautiful". Not one return showed a fat person. Beauty nowadays equals thinness! Though I do not entirely agree with this, that is what society wants you to think.

    One of my favorite tactics that advertisers use these days are the before and after pictures. The before pictures always show the person mad, sad, and not smiling. They are often pale, discolored, blemished, and not wearing make up. The after pictures always have them smiling, dressed nicer, happy, cheerful, a new haircut, and a confident pose.

    People see these beautiful faces and bodies are immediately believe that in order to get members of the opposite sex to like them, they need to LOOK like that! Never mind personality anymore, it's all about looks.

Sex Sells:

Overview:

    These are the main components that I see that sets America up to being vulnerable when it comes to miracle pills, miracle diets, and miracle exercise tools. There are many ways to avoid falling into these traps, and differentiating between the crap products, and the products that really do work. We will elaborate on this later.


Blame Game
Do They Want To Blame Their Lack Of Results On The Diet Pill So That They Can Say They Tried Or Do They Really Think That The Pill Is Magic?

  • "I don't have enough time"
  • "I have fat genes"
  • "My metabolism is slow"
  • "I can't afford it"
  • "I want to lose the weight, I just can't"
  • "I don't think supplements are safe"
  • "I don't like health food"
  • "Gosh, if I only could... "

These are all excuses that I hear all of the time. Not having enough time and not being able to afford a personal trainer are huge reasons why people go to their local drug store or Walmart and get themselves Trim Spa.

They see the advertisements, "just one pill a day" and they think that if they take this pill upon waking up, eat like crap, and do no exercise, they will magically lose weight.

The only supplement that ever worked this well was Ephedra, and even then did not always yield results without exercise. What people need to realize is that these pills only work in correlation with a proper diet and exercise, and most of the time those results can be achieved just as efficiently without the usage of diet pills.

I would say people definitely get some satisfaction out of buying a bottle of pills for 40 or 50 dollars. It makes them think they placed an investment in something that was supposed to help them achieve their goal. This way, they can say, "Well, I did try, and it just didn't work, I give up."

Once again, we all want instantaneous results, and do not want to put forth the effort to work hard, eat right, and dedicate themselves to achieving the goal the natural way.

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Deluding One's Self
Does Taking A Daily Diet Pill Make Them Feel Like They're Trying, So That They Trick Themselves Into Not Worrying About Their Weight?

Absolutely. Unfortunately, there are many people who are naïve enough to believe that if they take a pill each day, they are trying. Honestly, at least taking a daily vitamin and eating breakfast is trying harder than popping some weight loss pill endorsed by a porn star.

Many even jump to the conclusion that if they begin using this pill or powder that they can begin eating even worse! Products that I feel cause this are carbohydrate blocking pills. These basically allow you to eat carbohydrates without them being absorbed.

If you want to cut out carbohydrates, just start cutting down on your carbohydrate intake. Instead people feel that they can go to the local pastry shop, eat half of an apple pie, and take a carbohydrate blocker and they will be fine.

It is these mindsets, and these misunderstandings that lead many Americans to wasting their money, and gaining more weight. As stated earlier, there are many, many supplements that I do feel are very beneficial, but as with any product, there are copycats.

You can look at any area of retail, let's take electronics for example. If you buy brand "A", it is known to be a great product, has been around for a long time, but is kind of pricey. Brand "B" is fairly new, not very popular, but their prices are considerably cheaper.

You have to look at things objectively, and not let yourself fall into the trap of being scammed. Any supplement that is shown on television is usually a poor quality product. Do your research, ask questions, and don't let yourself get scammed!


Good Or Bad?
What Ways Can I Distinguish What Supplements Are Good & What Are A Waste?

You can not always trust store employees to guide you in the right direction. Half the time they just want to sell what they can sell, and the other half of the time they don't know what they are even talking about. The question is, how can you prepare yourself before you go into the supplement shop, to be able to separate the good from the bad? Let's take a look!

Personal Knowledge:

    This is undoubtedly easier said than done. It can take months, if not years to get an understanding, or even somewhere near an understanding of different supplements. What I consider good supplements also may be much different from what others may think.

    I like to keep the ingredients short. You should not be looking at a canister of creatine with 10 other ingredients in it, that have nothing to do with recovery. In other words, a lot of flavor enhancers, the word glucose, and hydrogenated are just a few ingredients that are not good. This is when I will tell you my top three supplements to avoid.

    ZMA:

      If you are a teenager, or heck, even below the age of 30, you do not need to add this to your supplement stack. Any testosterone booster should not be used by teenagers. ZMA is an effective product, but is used mostly by the 20 and under crowd, which is kind of ironic.

    Glutamine:

      If this is not taken in the right dosages, it is not effective at all. Many studies show that unless you are taking in between 20 and 30 grams a day, the results are negligible. Of course, it won't hurt you, but glutamine doesn't run too cheap, save your money for protein.

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    "Legal" Growth Hormone:

      Similar to ZMA, promising to support testosterone and growth hormone output, it is simply crap. Sure, if you are using prescription grade growth hormone, that will be effective (and dangerous) but over the counter, not so much.

    Save your money, supplement some protein, creatine, and start eating more protein from food, as this alone will support testosterone and growth hormone. Doing 3 sets of heavy deadlifts will secrete more growth hormone than these crappy products.

Common Sense:

    That's right, just as your diet should be, your supplementation should be based on common sense. Let's face it, the 48 hour diets, 6 pack abdominals in just 5 minutes a day, lose 10 pounds in a week, lose 20 inches in a month, wear a belt and you will get abdominal, all of these claims just do not make sense.

    While it would be absolutely fantastic if some of these claims were true, they aren't. Stick with basic supplementation. Don't supplement until you have knowledge on food and training first. Food is the best anabolic substance.

    You can shoot up all of the testosterone you want, but without a proper diet, you will not make it. Calories equal growth, protein equals muscle, fats equal hormones, and carbohydrates equal energy. A balanced diet consisting of these three factors will lead you to success. Drink plenty of water as well, keep your muscles hydrated, and you will quickly be happy with your gains.


Bonus Question
Have You Ever Fallen Into The Trap Of The "Miracle Pill?" How Did You Justify Buying & Using It?

Personally, I have not fallen into the miracle pill trap. But I have many friends who have, and even family members. They justified their buying of these pills because they had no other options.

I have this one friend, she is a girl. She runs on her treadmill at home for at least an hour a day, and she does not see herself in a realistic way. She does not make realistic goals. This girl is very thin, but due to childhood weight issues, she refuses to listen to reason, and is convinced she is overweight.

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She feels that using "diet pills" will give her that edge she needs to lose those few last pounds. Of course this girl also does not eat breakfast, and usually not lunch either. It's one grand meal in the evening, and that's it.

People think if they take in 300 or 400 calories, they will lose weight. While this may be true, doing this is horrendous on your metabolism, and usually will hurt your weight loss goals dramatically.

Then we have a family member. He is one of the smallest in my family. He thinks because I am into bodybuilding and gaining weight that he needs to do the same, to match up. He is also 6 inches shorter than me, so we have the whole insecurity factor coming into play.

Anyway, he is convinced that drinking 1000 calorie weight gainers will put on good weight. I was at his house recently, and the ingredients in these shakes he has been making are less than quality. Lots of sugars, lots of saturated fats, stuff you don't want in a clean bulk.

He also does not have a solid training regimen. So like the girl, she was not attentive to her diet, but she did have a fairly good exercise routine. This individual has an okay diet, but does not pay attention to his exercise routine. People need to realize that diet and exercise work synergistically to give you the results you want. You can not just sit around, mope around, wishing.

It is time for you to take control of the situation. Stop throwing your money away on alcohol, sweets, cigarettes, and junk food! Start spending it on healthy foods, lean meats, low fat milk, and a gym membership. There is no such product out there that will yield results within days.

If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Supplements can only do so much work, the rest is left up to you in the kitchen and in the gym. Protein powders, creatine, amino acids, vitamins, they're all great, but the first thing that needs to be in check is your diet and exercise plan. Stop moping around wishing you had that body you see on television, get a grip, and take control!

Best of luck with all of your goals and aspirations,

Kevin B.
BKevin89@aol.com

Work Cited:

  1. en.wikipedia.org
  2. www.usatoday.com
  3. images.google.com
  4. http://www.quickweightloss.biz/fatloss.gif
  5. www.bodybuilding.com/fun/catavoid.htm


2nd Place - redhawk76
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

The supplement industry is growing at an incredible pace. This industry is unregulated, allowing them to make incredible claims about their products, without backing them up. You all know what I am talking about, when you open your favorite magazine and see claims of steroid like gains in no time at all.

The majority of you reading this, being Bodybuilding.com visitors, probably realize the fact that these claims can be made without proof. We are just the minority, however, as an incredible amount of people everyday read this and decide to purchase it immediately. No research on its safety or actual effectiveness, just an impulse purchase, is a common occurrence in America.


The Miracle Pill
Why Are So Many Americans Drawn To The Miracle Pill?

The reason that Americans are so easily drawn to the miracle pill is pretty simple, and comes down to laziness. Americans have grown increasingly lazy over the years, so it should be no surprise at how the obesity rate is skyrocketing. Americans are becoming extremely reliant on technology to do everything for them.

Ever since computers were created, our level of laziness has grown dramatically. This has been evolving even before that, however. As technology increases, and we become a more efficient society, we become more reliant on the new technology.

When the car was invented, we immediately could never imagine going back to anything but this for transportation. Now that we have cell phones, computers, the internet, and the ever growing means of communication, we could never imagine being without it.

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This effect will only continue to compound. As we advance, and Americans will always advance at great rates, we become lazier. This laziness can be directly connected to the reason so many Americans fall for the "miracle pill" trap.

As I am sitting here writing this, an advertisement for a fad diet has just come on the TV. Everyone is looking for a way to improve their bodies, and this marketing hits them perfectly. Nobody has the time or desire to research the stuff like they should, and takes these claims at face value. This is why any one who is uneducated on the subject, will immediately fall for this trap.

It actually has ended up being a terrible cycle. People become lazy, so they end up gaining weight. These people then decide they want to turn their lives around, so they fall for the miracle pill trap. It is all interconnected with the reliance that Americans have on technology.

The number one customer for the supplement companies is the first time user. They decide they want to get in shape, but who really wants to go to the gym 5 days a week, right? Well, most of you bodybuilders are screaming I DO, and I couldn't agree more.

We are a different breed, however. The average person just looking to tone up and drop a few lbs. is generally not disciplined enough to do this consistently. Instead, they read magazines that tell them all their dreams can come true, and they give in and make the purchase.

Everyone is susceptible to falling into this trap, because we love the easy way out. If you could pop a pill for a month and get whatever it is you desire, chance are you are going to do it. Things that come easy make our lives less hectic.

This is simply not possible in bodybuilding, however. This sport is about discipline, hard work and determination. The supplements are there to assist us along the way, we all know that. My little brother, however, does not know that.

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He walks into the local supplement store and gets told how this creatine will make his arms explode. He wouldn't be able to think of anything but getting enough money for this creatine. At a young age, many people fail to see the big picture.

It is not his fault; however, he is simply uneducated when it comes to this. He does not know that diet and training is the most important thing. When he hears success stories of people using whatever he is looking at, he immediately thinks it will automatically work for him.

The bottom line is simple. Everyone wants to get ahead, and become more desirable to the opposite sex. NOT everyone wants to do cardio and lift weight consistently, or avoid that pizza and beer every Friday night. Sacrifices must be made, but the miracle pill makes people believe they can get around them. This is unhealthy for our society, and only getting worse.

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Blame Game
Do They Want To Blame Their Lack Of Results On The Diet Pill So That They Can Say They Tried Or Do They Really Think That The Pill Is Magic?

Often times people will use the fact that they took a diet pill as an excuse to say they tried, and certainly some people think that the pill is "magic." Many more times, however, it is actually a combination of both. People buy the pill and believe they have already made progress.

I find it hard to believe that these people truly, deep down feel that these pills are magic, however they do not allow themselves to think that deeply. They simply believe they will get the advertised results, and when that doesn't happen, they blame the pill.

My friends and family ask me on an almost daily basis if a certain supplement is good, or if it works. It is honestly one of the more frustrating 30 seconds of my day. I cannot explain enough to them how nothing works without solid diet and exercise.

They do not listen though. They listen to what they want to hear, and tune out what they don't want to hear. I have written up diets for my friends and family, seen them fail to follow it, and then ask me if the newest fat burner "works."

I cannot think of anything that angers me more. They have no desire to ever blame themselves for not achieving their goals, but if they can try a pill, they have something to blame other than themselves.


Deluding One's Self
Does Taking A Daily Diet Pill Make Them Feel Like They're Trying, So That They Trick Themselves Into Not Worrying About Their Weight?

This is certainly a common occurrence as well. Being overweight is very depressing, I know from personal experience. Just attempting to work out made me feel one hundred times better when I first started out. This was because I knew I was trying, and what else could I ask for.

Not everyone actually wants to go to the gym, so they can achieve this same feeling by taking a pill. This makes them feel like they have made a significant effort toward losing weight, so why not eat that extra piece of pizza. It is a mentality that is killing Americans as we speak.

Pizza
Click Image To Enlarge.
Don't Give In!

Some people can't deal with the pressures and responsibilities of every day life. I am not saying it is easy, but diet pills are not the answer. They often think if they shell out forty bucks that they have tried very hard to make a lifestyle change, and they concentrate their efforts elsewhere.

Being overweight is a terrible feeling, and anything to help with the mentality is worth trying. People think that a diet pill will do that, and it will for a short while. This feeling will stop once that person realizes that nothing will change if they do not approach their weight and health in the correct way.


Bonus Question
Have You Ever Fallen Into The Trap Of The "Miracle Pill?" How Did You Justify Buying & Using It?

Not as completely as many Americans do today, but in some senses I did. Ever since I began to lose weight I knew how important exercise and diet is. I began this journey in high school, so at the start I was not especially aware of the supplement industry.

This is a great thing because it allowed me to concentrate on the basics at first. Not until I had lost a great deal of weight did diet pills come into the picture. My friends introduced me to a popular fat burner, and said they had great results.

Now, I didn't think that this pill would immediately melt the fat right off of me, but I did have high hopes. When starting the bottle I got new motivation, which might be the only positive thing from this experience, aside from what I learned of course.

I never expected incredible things to happen, but I thought that I would get results just because my friends said so. I did not research the product like I should have, and I spent almost 50 bucks on something that I can make up with perfect dieting nowadays.

I do not mean to sound rude when I speak of the Americans who are guilty of this, because most of us have been there. It is just scary because kids become hooked at a young age, and will never understand how to approach health and exercise appropriately.

They will believe that supplements are the only way from the beginning, and this is so untrue. I hope that I have opened your eyes somewhat to the danger of falling for this trap.

I am not saying that all supplements are worthless. Many certainly have their place, however a supplement is just that, a SUPPLEMENT to your diet and training program. Supplements do not come first, they come last. I cannot express that enough, and I hope you all understand this.

Thank you for reading, and any questions regarding this subject feel free to e-mail me at piscitbj@muohio.edu.