Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Weight-Loss Products That May Only Trim Your Wallet
Is losing weight on your New Year's resolution list?
 
They come in pills, powders and creams, meals and tastants (definition to come) — products whose marketers claim can help you lose weight, in many cases, without diet or exercise. Americans spend billions of dollars based on these advertising claims every year and every year marketers are called out on deceptive weight-loss claims. If you’ve penciled in “lose weight” among your New Year’s resolutions, here are a few cautionary tales: 
 
Nutrisystem
 
Has Nutrisystem reverted to making the same type of deceptive weight-loss claims that got it into trouble with the FTC in the leotard-loving days of the early 90s? That’s what a petition filed in 2015 sought the FTC to investigate. The claims at issue included losing five pounds and an inch off your waist in your first week on one of the company’s Fast 5 meal plans. Now Nutrisystem is running ads for a weight-loss program — turbo 10 — that claims you can lose 10 pounds and five inches off your waist in your first month. Whether this new system breeds more consumer complaints — hundreds have already been filed against Nutrisystem with the FTC — we’ll just have to wait and see.
 
Roca Labs
 
Marketed as an alternative to expensive gastric bypass surgery, this company’s purported stomach-shrinking powders, which start at $480 for a three-to-four month supply, may only end up shrinking your wallet. A 2015 FTC complaint bellyached that Roca Labs did not possess scientific evidence to back up several of its weight-loss claims. The agency also took issue with the company’s non-disparagement provision or gag clause, which it said unfairly sought to block bad reviews.
 
 
Genesis Today and Pure Health
 
An appearance on the Dr. Oz Show catapulted Lindsey Duncan and his companies, Genesis Today and Pure Health, into the miracle weight-loss arena. On the show, Duncan pointed to a clinical study that supposedly supported claims that consumers could lose weight with his green coffee bean extract — without diet or exercise. Duncan reaped millions. But the FTC said the clinical study was severely flawed. And in 2015, Duncan agreed to refund millions — $9 million to be exact –to consumers.
 
Sensa
 
Going to the gym in 2016 may require a lifestyle change on your part. And change can be hard (that Netflix queue won’t watch itself). In 2011, Sensa claimed that its product required “no change” in lifestyle. “Simply sprinkle Sensa on, eat all the foods you love and watch the pounds come off,” was the pitch for the tastant, a substance that stimulates your sense of taste. Sensa claimed the tastant, which costs $59 for a month’s supply, helped “you feel full faster.” But the FTC said Sensa was full of it and did not have sufficient scientific evidence to support its claims (a popular refrain). Sensa, which reported U.S. sales topping $350 million, agreed to cough up some spare change and return $26.5 million to consumers.
 
L’Occitane
 
You’ve tried everything but nothing seems to work. But what’s this now, a “body slimming” cream? Might this pave the way to a skinnier you in the new year? Probably not. In 2015, the FTC mailed out more than 10,000 refund checks totaling more than $400,000 to people who purchased two cellulite creams marketed by L’Occitane. The FTC cited “flawed” studies purportedly supporting claims that the creams help consumers slim down. The seven-ounce creams cost between $44 and $48. But apparently they were not the cream of the crop.
 
Sale Slash
 
Just because fake Oprah says one weight-loss supplement is “excellent” doesn’t mean you should buy that supplement. It is, after all, not the real Oprah. “Sale Slash is a fraud trifecta,” said the FTC’s Jessica Rich in a press release announcing a 2015 action that temporarily halted Sale Slash operations. “The company made outlandish weight-loss claims for its diet pills using fake news sites, phony celebrity endorsements, and millions of unwanted spam emails,” Rich added. Premium Green Coffee and Pure Garcinia Cambogia were among the supplements touted. Purists Choice was also named as a defendant.
For more on weight loss, click here
 

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Time for kirtan/bhajan music to be recognised: Grammy-nominated Madi Das
'Bhakti Without Borders' is the debut album from Das who grew up in the Vaishnava tradition of Bhakti yoga.
 
Kolkata : For Madi Das, scoring a Grammy nomination for his album of bhajans "Bhakti Without Borders" alongside the likes of singing sensation Taylor Swift and rapper Kendrick Lamar, is a "completely strange" feeling. But Das, who spent eight years learning kirtans and bhajans in India, believes it's time the genre gets its due recognition as an important tradition.
 
 
"It is completely strange, yes (to be featured as a nominee alongside Taylor Swift and others). But also, this music has so much more history than pop or R&B. This music has been around for centuries; so is it not time for it to be recognised as a rich and important tradition?" wondered Das, a former Hollywood entertainment executive now working in the Australian film and TV industry.
 
"Bhakti Without Borders" is the debut album from Das who grew up in the Vaishnava tradition of Bhakti yoga.
 
Up for Best New Age Album (a category of non-Christian sacred music) for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards to be announced next month, the record marks only the third time that a kirtan album has been nominated; the emerging genre has never won yet.
 
Featuring 11 bhajans, it is produced by well-known kirtan artist Dave Stringer. Das sings a duet with a different female vocalist on each track.
 
"I describe my music as world music with sacred origins, like the Hindu equivalent of gospel music," Das told IANS in an email interview from Melbourne.
 
Born in Germany to an American mother and German father, Das's upbringing was an assimilation of different music genres.
 
At the age of seven, he went to a boarding school in India (in Vrindavan and Mayapur). He spent eight years learning kirtans and bhajans and becoming fluent in Hindi. He subsequently lived in Ireland, where he was exposed to traditional Celtic music. Film school brought him to the US.
 
It is this mixture of Irish and Indian music that comes through in his album. Western music influences in the US added to his repertoire to create a blend of country and eastern sounds in the album.
 
But what about the tag of 'hippie music' that is often shoved on western artistes who pick up such spiritual sounds?
 
"Perhaps because the first influences of Indian music integrating into the West harks back to the Beatles and Ravi Shankar, which took place during the hippie explosion, there is a tendency to categorise it like that.
 
"... and indeed there are still some strong hippie influences in some practitioners of modern kirtan," Das conceded.
 
But he also acknowledges there is also a "growing movement of authentic western artistes who have taken the time to study and learn the eastern traditions".
 
"And they are now creating something that has strong foundational roots in the East while still adding the more commercial broad strokes appeal to people who like Western music," Das explained.
 
At the moment, the popularity of kirtan music is "exploding" in the US what with bhakti festivals, radio shows and retreats, said Das, adding everyone can enjoy the music.
 
"If we can enjoy each other's music regardless of faith or culture, perhaps we can gain some understanding and empathy for each other... then that will put an end to intolerance," he signed off.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Twitter planning 10,000-character limit for tweets
New York : Want to convey more to your friends and policymakers on Twitter? Soon, you may be able to tweet in 10,000 characters on the micro-blogging site.
 
According to media reports, Twitter is building a new feature that will allow users to tweet longer than its traditional 140-character limit.
 
The company is currently considering a 10,000-character limit, recode.net reported, adding that Twitter may launch this feature toward the end of the first quarter.
 
This is the character limit the company uses for its Direct Messages product.
 
According to the report, it is also possible that the 10,000-character feature may change before it is finally rolled out.
 
There is, however, no official launch date set so far.
 
"Twitter is currently testing a version of the product in which tweets appear the same way they do now, displaying just 140 characters, with some kind of call to action that there is more content you can't see," recode.net said, quoting sources.
 
Clicking on the tweets will then expand them to reveal more content.
 
The 140-character limit has been around as long as Twitter has and has become part of the product's personality.
 
Twitter is also working on the idea of changing its reverse chronological timeline.
 
The micro-blogging site is experimenting with a Facebook-type way of sorting your timeline where tweets are sorted by relevance and not in reverse chronological order as it happens now.
 
According to motherboard.vice.com, Twitter is working with algorithms similar to the ones Facebook uses to order items on your news feed.
 
"This is an experiment. We're continuing to explore ways to surface the best content for people using Twitter," a company spokeswoman was quoted as saying.
 
Twitter has been hinting towards an algorithmic-driven news feed for more than a year.
 
The test is part of CEO Jack Dorsey's promise for bold changes to Twitter to help get it out of its slow growth, Wall Street Journal reported.
 
"You will see us continue to question our reverse chronological timeline, and all the work it takes to build one by finding and following accounts," Dorsey said earlier this year.
 
"We continue to show a questioning of our fundamentals in order to make the product easier and more accessible to more people," he added.
 
The reverse chronological timeline has been fundamental to Twitter since it began nine years ago and has made sense for a real-time service.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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