Before and after pics are less than truthful

In the category of Quelle Surprise… extreme photos are not as they seem.

Dieters beware: Those before-and-after weight-loss photos aren’t always legit.

Many weight-loss ads draw you in with dramatic “before-and-after photos” of real people. But the truth behind some of those ads is surprising.

One such ad, for Wu-Yi Source Tea, claimed to promote weight loss with glowing testimonials from customers. It said one user of the product lost “68 lbs.” and offered her photos as proof.

TODAY spoke to Brook Shadwell, who was named and quoted in the ad as saying, “Wu-Yi Tea is the only one I would have used. I’m extremely happy with the results. Looks like I’ll be drinking tea now.” The ad is “completely false,” according to Shadwell.

“I didn’t even drink the tea,” Shadwell said. “I haven’t even tried the tea. I don’t even know what this tea is!”

“They took my image from my blog and pulled it to promote their product,” Shadwell told TODAY. “I was completely shocked; that’s how I felt initially, very shocked.”

One woman’s “shrinking” figure has appeared in many ads under many different names: “Jenny Conrad,” “Nicole Stevenson,” “Kathy Thompson.” The truth is, she’s a plus-size model from Germany whose image is for sale on stock photo sites. And the “after” shots of her are Photoshopped to make her look thinner.

Brook Shadwell’s pictures were real but she lost weight via exercising and dieting, not a “miracle” weight loss product. Stealing photos off of blogs is really low-down dirty stuff.

A personal trainer quoted in the story showed other tricks used to manipulate pictures – slouching, letting your gut hang out, not shaving for the before pic. Then, he notes, the after pic is posed to be far more flattering – a shaved chest, slicked hair, slimmer clothes, flattery lighting and poses.

The Federal Trade Commission says weight-loss products are one of the most-reported frauds.

More: How ‘Before-and-After’ Fools You – Starts With A Bang.

Video from Rossen Reports on Today.com

  4 comments for “Before and after pics are less than truthful

  1. March 4, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    Your before and after picture of the alpaca looks truthful to me – I have llamas but alpacas are closely related. That alpaca was sheared – they are very fluffy. It lost weight alright, but it was the weight of a fleece.

  2. Haldurson
    March 4, 2014 at 6:57 PM

    Sometimes the ads are truthful but very misleading. The truth is that some people just lose weight more easily than others for genetic reasons. If you grow up naturally skinny, odds are that if you do let yourself go, that you’ll have a much easier time losing weight than someone who grew up with a more endomorphic body. I remember Penn and Teller talking about this same topic on an old ‘Bullshit’ episode, particularly the genetic aspects.

  3. Andrew W
    March 4, 2014 at 9:04 PM

    Another typical thing those “weight loss” sites do, is use body builders photo’s, which show them in the bulking phase, when they eat lots and and gain weight and ‘bulk’ vs the competition or cutting phase, where they diet/calorie restrict to remove lots of body fat fast to show the muscle definition.

    Throw in all the other tricks and you have a “miraculous” transformation.

    Once again, proving the point that testimonials are not evidence. And everything you see on the Internet is true… not!

  4. Maria
    March 9, 2014 at 4:55 AM

    I have always had an impression that these ‘before and after’ pictures show – at least not infrequently – different people rather than the same person. In many cases the hair colour and make-up are so different that it is not easy to tell whether the model had changed her looks or they are two models.
    By the way, the only method to get thinner is not eating cakes. No teas or pills or magical creams will help you.

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