The diet business is fat and healthy. Anyone who swigs diet soda, works out regularly or subsists on fat-free food, is feeding this multi-billion dollar industry. Annual diet industry revenues have grown from an estimated $100 million in the 1950s to $50 billion in the 1990s. The industry encompasses all products and services that claim to change the body, including diet plans and products, exercise equipment and gyms. It has grown exponentially over the past four decades and shows no signs of declining.

Notions of the ideal body are linked with the economy. There are a wealth of businesses that depend upon the American desire for thinness to survive.

In order to create a market for their product, they attempt to make people feel inadequate about their own bodies. Their product or exercise equipment will get us on the way to the “real” us, the thinner, better, more popular us. We are given the message that our value depends on our physical appearance. We are told that we must be sexually attractive to be successful and happy. An ideal weight is presented as a requirement for being sexually attractive.

However, diet failure rates hover between 90 and 95 percent, according Jeanine Cogan*, a congressional science fellow for the American Psychological Association. But many of the major companies don’t disclose their statistics on success. This shows that the real focus of diet companies is in making money, not on helping people live healthier lives.

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