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Can You Lick Those Pounds with Weight Loss Lollipops?

Can You Lick Those Pounds with Weight Loss Lollipops?

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Weight loss lollipops are the latest diet craze to sweep Hollywood.  All over town, celebs can be seen sucking away at these sweet little treats that purport to speed metabolism and help snackers lick those extra pounds.  The key ingredient in Power Pops® is hoodia, an African herb thought to be the best natural appetite suppressant out there.  Even better, hoodia is said to give users a little burst of energy, which I could definitely use every afternoon at about three when I get a severe case of the post-lunch slump.  A lollipop that not only helps you lose weight, but also gets you through the afternoon doldrums?  Count me in!  But are these skinny suckers really worth all the commotion?  I found Power Pops® for sale in my local convenience store, so I bought a couple of packs and handed them out to my friends to see what all the hype is about.

All the Hoopla about Hoodia

Hoodia gordoni is a small cactus-like plant that grows in the Kalahari Desert region of South Africa and has been used for many thousands of years as a natural appetite suppressant by the nomadic San Bushmen during long hunts.  Scientists have found that the effects of hoodia on the brain are similar to those of glucose-it tricks the brain into thinking a person is full.  When added to a healthy diet and exercise routine, hoodia has been shown to help dieters feel fuller by reducing their interest in food and delaying the time it takes for hunger to set in.

While hoodia can be a valuable addition to any weight loss regime, it is important to note that it is not a quick fix.  Simply taking hoodia daily will not aid in weight loss unless a person also reduces his or her caloric intake and is dedicated to regular exercise.  Patients who have diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, a blood clotting disorder, or an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia should not take hoodia without first consulting with a physician. 

Though there is very little doubt that hoodia is an excellent natural appetite suppressant when used in an appropriate manner, the herb has not been tested by the FDA for efficacy or safety, and there are currently no regulations concerning the use and distribution of hoodia.  As with many herbal supplements, the benefits of hoodia seem clear to users and marketers of this product, but it should always be used with caution. Thus, as is the case with all natural supplements, users should investigate any hoodia products they plan to consume to ensure purity of the product and safe use.

What's the Deal with Power Pops®?

The makers of Power Pops® claim that much of the product's efficacy is attributable to the delivery method-that's right...sucking.  The idea is that, unlike the ground-up hoodia that comes in most diet pills or the various liquid forms of the herb on the market, the hoodia in the lollies is ingested slowly, much in the same way as the Bushmen have used it successfully for years.  In addition, I believe that slowly sucking on a Power Pop® adds to a person's feeling of fullness because it extends the amount of time they can enjoy the flavor and the sensation of eating.

While the hoodia and other diet-friendly natural ingredients in Power Pops® can certainly aid in weight loss, I believe that much of the benefit of these pops comes from the way in which they are eaten.  The instructions on the package tell users that, to reap the full benefits of the suckers, they should drink one glass of water before and one immediately after eating the pop, thirty minutes before a meal.  Call me crazy, but if I downed two glasses of water before lunch, I would probably feel pretty full, even without a sucker.  Plus, at 28 calories and 4 carbs a piece, the pops themselves (even without hoodia) probably add to a feeling of satiety.

How's It Taste?

Of course, with any item that is marketed as a candy, taste is of the utmost importance.  Power Pops® now come in twelve different flavors, ranging from green apple to cinnamon, but the flavor of the pops is slightly different from traditional lollies.  Tasters commented that the flavors were not bad (kind of like a Jolly Rancher®), but that they had a sort of "herbal" or "acidic" aftertaste.  Plus, the ground hoodia in the pops made for a slightly grainy texture which made some tasters' mouths feel sore and dry by the end of the pop.  Because of this, snackers may enjoy the pops that are not fruit-flavored most, as these flavors do not seem to be as affected by the addition of hoodia to the candy.  When our team tried the suckers, the cappuccino-flavored pop seemed to be the big hit of the day:  our taster said, "It tastes like I have a Starbuck's franchise in my mouth!"  All in all, while Power Pops® don't taste "bad" and some flavors are actually enjoyable, they definitely aren't going to satisfy a dieter who's looking for a substitution for the real thing.

They Look a Little...Funky

The appearance of the suckers may be off-putting to some dieters who yearn for a substitute for the brightly colored, shiny lollipops they are no longer supposed to eat.  Most of the pops were a muted shade, and some, like the pink lemonade flavor, had an almost creamy appearance.  One way to offset the less-than-delicious-looking appearance of the pops would be to package them in a way that makes them look more exciting.  As it is, the pops come in plain wrappers-the only identification comes on the sticks, which display the name of the product and the flavor of each lollipop.  We feel that making these pops look more like candy and less than a weight loss supplement may broaden the consumer base and make even current users more excited about this product.  Why not spruce up the package the pops come in and make the individual wrappers colorful and more appealing?  I mean, the whole gimmick here is that this is "candy" that helps users shed pounds, so making it look more like candy and less like medicine can only have a positive effect.

The Verdict

So here's the real question you all want the answer to:  do Power Pops® really work?  I am not so sure about that.  While some of our DocShop taste-testers did report a little energy surge after eating the pops, those tasters also said they felt jittery and even nauseated within ten minutes of eating the suckers.  Plus, we strategically conducted our little test roughly one half-hour before lunchtime, and all of the tasters ate just as much as they usually do.  Perhaps these pops have a better effect when eaten regularly, or maybe some users just experience a placebo effect, hoping the pops work as well as they say they do.  Our final verdict is that, at more than a dollar apiece, these pops don't taste nearly as good as we hoped they would, and the only effects we felt after eating them were decidedly unpleasant.

When you come right down to it, the surest and most effective way to lose weight is to eat right and to exercise.  So many of us are looking for a quick fix, or an easier way to get the results other people work hard to get.  The truth is that there is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle, and encouraging dieters to eat candy is probably not the best tactic.  People who diet need to adjust their habits and tastes in such a way that precludes them from indulging in a lollipop three times a day.  By labeling some candies as "diet friendly," marketers simply prey upon the weakness of consumers who have gained pounds as a result of overindulging in sweets. 

This brings up another point:  I don't doubt that these lollipops contain a fair amount of sugar, the natural enemy of any diet.  So people who eat the recommended three lollies a day are certainly getting a healthy dose of hoodia, but they are also getting a bunch of sugar and nearly 100 extra calories. 

The bottom line?  Would-be dieters would be better served by eating healthy and exercising, skipping the candy-coated gimmicks altogether.  Really, moderation is the key.  If someone is trying to lose weight but simply must have a sweet, he or she should be able to accommodate a small splurge.  Otherwise, taking pure hoodia in pill or liquid form, without the calories added by the candy conveyance, may be more effective in the battle against the bulge.

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