Divisive weight loss wager firms target UK dieters

Image copyright FAITH ARCHER Image caption Money blogger Faith Archer use DietBet to place a bet on her potential weight loss

“They even sent you a codeword. You had to write it out on a piece of paper and include it in a photo with your foot and the scales, ” says Faith Archer, a fund blogger at website Much More With Less.

Faith is one of a number of UK dieters who have turned to weight loss “wager” websites as positive incentives.

Potential customers in the UK are now being targeted with adverts on social media.

David Roddenberry, co-founder of HealthyWage, told the BBC his firm started marketing to the UK this year.

The company stimulates personalised gambles with its customers, where they pick how much weight they would like to lose, and over what time. The prize money varies depending on the amount of weight a person has to lose.

Someone who wanted to lose a small amount of weight could bet PS3 00 in total over 10 months, but stimulate just PS33 if they succeeded. If they didn’t hit their objective, they would lose all of their money.

People who want to lose more win greater returns, assuming they achieve their stated goal.

“We’ve had about PS2 50,000 of contracts in the UK in the first month of the year, ” said Mr Roddenbury.

He added: “About one third of our participants achieve their goal and get a prize at the end.”

DietBet, the company that Faith signed up to, say that about 50% of clients win their four-week bets. It did not however provide data for those signing up to longer, more expensive bets.

‘Really appealed’

“I am quite a competitive person and the idea I could actually make money by losing weight really appealed, ” says Faith.

“A friend of mine set up a DietBet group. Everybody who took portion put in $20( PS15. 46 ), because it’s a US company.

“The aim was to lose 4% of your body weight within four weeks and whoever managed to achieve that target would share out the money at the end.”

DietBet’s participants pool their money and the company takes a slice of that money. If everyone wins, it foregoes its share so that no one gets less back than they put in.

Image copyright Getty Images

“We got sent vaguely promoting messages over the four weeks and there was a certain amount of chat among the group, ” says Faith.

“I had a bit of a panic at the end about whether I had actually done enough to win my wager. But actually, I lost a few pounds more than needed, ” she adds.

“Unfortunately, we must have been a really motivated group because it turned out everyone had won their bets.

“So I just got my $20 back. In fact, with the exchange rate I think I got slightly less back than I had put in at the beginning. But I had lost the weight and I think it did encourage me.”

‘Hugely detrimental’

On the surface, this looks like one route tech firms are trying to disrupt an existing market – weight loss is big business in the UK.

However, there are real concerns that because it is online and competitive, weight loss wagers could enable unhealthy and even dangerous behaviours.

A spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association( BDA) told the BBC: “The fact that they ‘gamify’ weight loss and add a competitive component to losing weight would be hugely detrimental to those with poor relationships with food.

“Those with eating disorders could use a website such as this to justify dieting and regulation for monetary gain. That could have significant impacts on both mental and physical health.”

The eating disorder charity Beat says it is very worried about the potential impact of these wager websites.

“The evidence is pretty clear that fitness wagers, fitness apps, anything where the individuals are able to track their weight loss and use that in a competitive or a ‘gamification’ way is extremely dangerous for people with eating disorder, ” said a spokesperson.

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Media captionJake Henderson says a calorie counting app permitted his eating disorder to spiral

“It’s been shown to exacerbate their eating disorder behaviours and induce recovery much harder.”

Different companies have different ways to stop people participating if they cannot do so safely. Those include “flagging systems” and referees, but none of them are fail-safe.

Amanda Avery, an obesity specialist dietician and chairmen of the BDA’s Obesity Specialist Group, said that motivation can often help with weight loss, though.

“But there are more accessible motivators. Somebody could put a pound in a pot for every pound they lose and then save up and buy themselves a nice new attire or something.

“If they could find some supporting whereby their diet improves, they manage to increase their physical activity levels, they are going to be much more likely to maintain any weight loss they achieve.”

‘There is a danger’

For Faith, making a wager was simply an extra incentive. But she does acknowledge that a larger or longer wager than hers might have been an issue.

She said: “I suppose with any process where you are being weighed, there’s a danger that people might take it to extremes or not follow a healthy eating plan. But that applies whether it’s a gamble or a slimming club where you show up in person.

“There were bets on offer where you had to put in a significantly larger amount of money for longer periods of time. I was a bit more wary of that.”

“Wagered” weight loss worked for Faith, but did it last?

“Sadly no, ” she says. “But I maintained it off for a few months.”

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‘I’ve expended my life in fear of being called fat’

Image copyright Natalie Lam Image caption Megan Jayne Crabbe says her eyes were opened by the body positivity movement

Megan Jayne Crabbe was five years old when she started a war with her body. Instead of making friends on her first day at school, she was comparing herself to her peers and telling herself she was “chubby”. Now, she has more than a million Instagram adherents and recently told Parliament that “fat phobia” should be recognised as a kind of prejudice.

It took Megan almost two decades to accept her body. The years leading up to that were fraught with yo-yo dieting, crippling anorexia and a spell in a residential psychiatric hospital. At 21 – having fell out of college and then university – she hit her target weight. Still, she “hated everything” about herself.

“I knew that no matter what weight I got to, it would never be enough, ” says Megan , now 26. “I couldn’t continue that life. I knew there had to be more. My eating disorder had taken so much from me, I wasted so much time and I refused to let it take any more.

“Somehow I stumbled across an image of a woman on Instagram wearing a bikini and talking about accepting her body – not dieting and living her life as she was. I’d never really believed that was an option before.”

Dynamo: How Crohn’s built me ‘1 50% better at magic’

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Dynamo in July 2019

Magician Dynamo has said his struggle with Crohn’s disease and arthritis has made him “1 50% better at magic”.

At the height of his illness, physicians told Dynamo, whose real name is Steven Frayne, that he may never be able to use his hands to perform magic again.

“I was like, I’m Dynamo, I’ve got to figure out a route to do it, ” he told The Travel Diaries podcast.

“I do the impossible. I’m not going to go out like this.”

He decided to set the magical in the audience’s hands, and “try and empower them”, he told podcast host Holly Rubenstein.

“But over day I started to get the use of my hands back. I had all these new skills that I’d developed in my hospital bed – and the old abilities coming back too. So although I’m not 100% healthy yet, I am technically 150% better at magic.”

Image copyright Getty Images

Dynamo’s health forced him to step back from the limelight at the height of his success, having played arena tours and starred in TV displays including Dynamo: Magician Impossible.

In 2018, he addressed a dramatic change in his appearance, explaining that his medication regime caused him to “put on quite a lot of body weight” and develop a rash.

He told The Travel Diaries he used two months in hospital to conceive his forthcoming Sky One series, Beyond Belief.

“I was on a lot of heavy drug, which stimulated me go a little bit crazy. But some of the ideas that came into my head were out of this world. I wrote them down in my little black book and this series brings those ideas to life.”

The three-part special glistens a light on Dynamo’s journey towards recovery, as well as taking viewers across the globe as he performs “heart-stopping magic”.

Image copyright Sky Image caption Dynamo is set to starring in Sky One series Beyond Belief

As far as his own travellings are concerned, Dynamo recently shared photos from his time gorilla-trekking in Rwanda.

“I nearly died a year and a half ago. I[ didn’t] want to wait too long to tick off the number one thing on my bucket list.”

What is Crohn’s disease?

Crohn’s disease was a precondition in which parts of the digestive system become swollen It affects people of all ages and starts in childhood or early adulthood The main symptoms are diarrhoea, stomach aches and cramps, tiredness and weight loss There is no cure for the disease, but therapies can control the symptoms In some examples surgery is undertaken to remove a small part of the digestive system

Girl left scarred after Turkish cosmetic surgery

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Media caption“I wish I didn’t have surgery in Turkey”

A woman is facing reconstructive surgery after being left scarred by cosmetic procedures in Turkey.

Kimberley Saad, 27, from Ogmore Vale, Bridgend, had two operations expensing PS6, 000 in 2019 and has warned of the dangers of cheap alternatives abroad.

Surgeon Dean Boyce, from Morriston Hospital in Swansea, said patients should look at the “bigger picture”.

BBC Wales has contacted Comfortzone, which performed Ms Saad’s operation, but has not received a response.

Ms Saad, who be applicable to weigh close to 23 st( 146 kg ), told the Gareth Lewis programme on BBC Radio Wales she decided to have breast implants and a tummy tuck after losing 9st from a gastric band, which left her with excess scalp.

She flew to Turkey in March 2019 because it was a “fraction of the price” of similar surgeries on offer in the UK and was also impressed by Comfortzone’s website.

Cosmetic surgery: Why I want it, and what a therapist told me Teen had 30 cosmetic procedures with no age check How safe is the cosmetic surgery boom ? Image caption Kimberley Saad tried surgery after being left with excess scalp after weight loss Image caption Ms Saad was left with an infection after going through two operations Image caption Ms Saad weighed closed to 23 st( 146 kg) before her operation

Is Veganuary a smart-alecky route to lose weight?

Image copyright Laura Banks/ Sumaya Tarabi

Search for #Veganuary on Instagram and you’ll find meatless burgers, dairy-free croissants and porridge topped with just about every plant-based food you can think of.

You’ll also find people posing in gym wear, adverts for “diet” protein powders and posts about weight loss.

People do Veganuary for a wide range of ethical and health reasons. For some it’s weight loss – especially if they’re inspired by celebrities like Beyonce, whose pre-Coachella diet was described by nutritionists as potentially dangerous.

But is it a viable or healthy style to shed pounds in January, or in the long-run?

For Laura Banks, 23, losing weight was one of the main drives behind doing Veganuary, and she has been documenting her progress on Instagram.

“I do feel a lot more healthy, ” she says, three weeks in. “But I’ve had a similar weight loss to when I was an omnivore.”

Image copyright Laura Banks Image caption Laura Banks says she had a similar weight loss to when she was an omnivore

She says she feels adequately informed about maintaining a balanced diet because she studies nutrition at university, and emphasizes the importance of planning dinners ahead.

One challenge she’s found to weight loss, however, is the availability of vegan fast-food – especially since she doesn’t have enough room in her student accommodation to store the fresh make she’d like to buy.

Sam Calvert, spokeswoman for the Vegan Society, stresses that being vegan doesn’t necessarily mean being slim, and that whether or not you lose weight by running plant-based will depend on what you eat.

“You can eat nothing but vegan chocolate and chips and be vegan, but you won’t lose weight and it won’t be good for you, ” she says.

Is one of these dishes the next big vegan make ? ‘Why I started the Veganuary movement’ Why are more people going vegan ? Vegans ‘need to be aware of B12 deficiency risk’ Image caption Nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert takes issue with celebrities promoting vegan diets. Image caption Sumaya Tarabi says she “wasn’t very educated” about veganism when she was a teenager

TalkTalk hacker sentenced to four years

Image copyright Metropolitan Police Image caption Daniel Kelley will serve four years in a young offenders’ institution

A man who was involved in a major hacker attack of telecoms firm TalkTalk has been sentenced to four years’ detention.

Daniel Kelley, 22, from Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, pleaded guilty in 2016 to 11 charges including involvement in the attack where the personal data of more than 150,000 customers was stolen.

Kelley will serve his sentence in a young delinquents institution.

He was sentenced at the Old Bailey on Monday.

Email address and bank details were taken after TalkTalk’s website was breached in 2015, with the total cost to the company from multiple hackers estimated at PS7 7m.

Kelley’s hacking offences also involved half a dozen other organisations, including a Welsh further education college, Coleg Sir Gar, where he was a student.

The teen behind the cybercrime screen Image caption Kelley’s assaults on his college cost hundreds of hours of teaching period

Reality superstars auditioned to ‘promote’ poison diet drink

Image copyright Getty Images

When scrolling through Instagram, you’ve probably considered celebrities ad loadings of products like make-up and weight loss drinks.

But do the influencers try the product and check the ingredients they’re promoting to their followers?

Not always, are in accordance with a BBC investigation.

Three big name Instagram influencers – Lauren Goodger, Mike Hassini and Zara Holland – have been caught auditioning to promote a poisonous cyanide drink.

The reality TV starrings were secretly filmed being asked to promote a fake diet drink in the BBC Three series Blindboy Undestroys the World, despite it not being ready for production.

The made-up drink – called Cyanora – included the ingredient hydrogen cyanide, which is a chemical that can kill you.

The toxic substance was used during the second world war by Nazi Germany in gas chambers.

Image caption Mike Hassini appeared on The Only Way Is Essex

Lauren, Mike and Zara – who collectively have more than 1.3 Instagram followers – were informed the product wasn’t being launched for a few months.

They were told they would not be able to drink it until it was.

Zara’s agent did point out she couldn’t do that without trying it first.

We see them movie video clips promoting the drink, mentioning the ingredient “hydrogen cyanide”.

The undercover filming was part of an investigation by the show into whether celebrities actually use the products they’re paid to promote on social media.

According to the advertising watchdog, the brand and the celebrity promoting a product are “responsible for the claims that are made in the advert”.

But the Advertising Standards Authority( ASA) told Radio 1 Newsbeat: “The issue of whether a celebrity who is promoting a product has actually tried/ utilized it themselves is not something we’ve had cause to investigate.”

Love Island star Zara Holland said she would never “deliberately mislead” her followers.

In response to the investigation, she said: “My agent did state that I would not promote a product without trying it first, and we needed to be provided with more details.

Image caption Zara Holland was filmed promoting the product

“I would never deliberately misinform my followers or promote a product that was dangerous.”

Lauren Goodger’s former agent replied: “Our client would not endorse the promotion of products that contained harmful or suspect ingredients, or without knowing the contents.

“Our client was told the product was in production.”

The ex-TOWIE star is also seen talking about a product she promoted called Skinny Coffee – which she previously said helped her lose two stone.

During filming, she says: “I’ve not tried skinny coffee.”

The ASA has previously ruled that Lauren Goodger was involved in making misleading claims for other weight loss products.

A statement by Lauren – posted on her talent agency’s Instagram story – says she agreed to promote the drink without trying it “in the hot of the moment”.

It read: “This script was given to me at that precise moment. No bargains were signed and it was an audition. They asked me would I promote the drink without use it.

“In the heat of the moment I said yes and also said I hadn’t tried Skinny Coffee in the hope of getting the job.

“Of course I would never promote anything that contains poison and proper checks would have been made before any promotion.”

Image caption It’s not the first time Lauren’s been in trouble about a product she’s promoted

She also denied saying she’d lost two stone through the coffee.

Lauren’s fellow Towie starring Mike Hassini has not yet responded to the BBC’s is asking for comment.

In a statement to Radio 1 Newsbeat, the ASA said: “Our primary concern is whether the claims a celebrity( or anyone else) makes about a product in an ad, which can include social media posts, are not misleading and are socially responsible.

“When considering claims around weight loss products, our investigations tend to focus on whether the advertiser is making any unauthorised health claims or promoting unsafe dietary practices.

“If a celebrity claimed that using a dietary product had helped them lose weight when, in fact, they had never use the product that could potentially be a problem under our rules. Though we’d have to carefully assess the context in which the claims appeared.”

BBC Three’s series Blindboy Undestroys the World is available on iPlayer now .

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.

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Hospital must pay compensation over newborn demise

Image copyright Harris James family Image caption Harris James died in November 2015

A hospital has been told to pay compensation to the family of a newborn who died because of “serious failings”.

Six-month-old Harris James was mistakenly treated for pneumonia when he had a heart condition, and multiple opportunities to save him were missed.

The ombudsman’s report ruled there were serious failings at the James Paget University Hospital in Norfolk, which said it had apologised to the family.

The trust has been ordered to pay the baby’s mother PS1 5,000.

The report from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman( PHSO) detected mistakes were attained in Harris’s care and the trust mishandled his mother Mary Gunns’ complaint, while also failing to properly investigate the death.

‘Became floppy’

Harris was admitted to the Gorleston hospital on 2 November 2015, after being referred by his GP.

He had experienced weight loss following gastroenteritis but, after some exams at research hospitals, was given an appointment with a dietician four weeks later.

However, on 12 November he was taken by ambulance to the trust’s A& E department after he vomited and became “floppy”.

A chest X-ray showed his right lung had changed and part of his left lung had filled with fluid.

Staff suspected he had sepsis and maybe aspiration pneumonia – a type of pneumonia caused by breathing something in, such as vomit, rather than by bacterial infection.

Image copyright Harris James family Image caption Harris James was “affectionate and sweet” are in accordance with his family

Harris, from Lowestoft in Suffolk, was transferred to a paediatric ward but his condition get worse.

An electrocardiogram( ECG) proved several heart abnormalities but Harris was still not referred to a specialist and did not ensure a consultant until the next day.

Soon after that, he suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

‘Devastated our family’

The ombudsman’s report concluded the trust had failed to act on the results of the ECG and X-ray, failed to consider Harris’s history and symptoms, failed to ask for input from specialist staff and failed to escalate his care when his condition was getting worse.

The report said had Harris received the appropriate treatment it was “more likely than not that his death would have been avoided”.

Harris’s mothers, Mary and Ryan, said: “Our son was an affectionate and sweet little boy whose sudden death devastated our family.

“We won’t ever be able to forgive James Paget Hospital for its failings , nor will we forget the additional pain caused by its mishandling of our complaint.”

Anna Hills, chief executive at James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said the trust had apologised to their own families for its failings, how it communicated with them and for how it managed their complaint.

The trust’s latest Care Quality Commission inspection report, published on Tuesday, considered it rated “good” although the safety of services was rated as “requires improvement”.

Its services responsiveness was rated “outstanding”.

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Big C podcast presenter ‘in cancer-free place’

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Media captionDeborah James: “It is a miracle”

One of the hosts of BBC Radio 5 Live’s podcast You, Me and the Big C has revealed she is now “in a cancer-free place” after three years of treatment.

“It’s a bit bonkers … but right now I have no evidence of cancer in my body, ” Deborah James said on Instagram.

James, who was diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer in 2016, told her 91,000 adherents she was “beyond grateful”.

“I never ever thought we would be here, ” she told BBC Breakfast on Wednesday. “It’s only just sinking in.”

The former deputy headteacher said she “sat and cried” when she heard the news, but was not taking anything for granted.

“Nobody knows what the future holds, ” she said, adding that she would continue treatment at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

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Media captionDeborah James was 35 when she found out that she had stage 4 bowel cancer

“Essentially nothing changes for me, ” she told BBC Breakfast’s Naga Munchetty. “Why change something when it’s working? “

Yet she said she would “raise a glass at least” and would now prepare to run a marathon to raise funds for the London hospital.

What are bowel cancer symptoms?

A persistent change in bowel habit – going most frequently, with looser stools and sometimes tummy pain Blood in the stools without other symptoms, such as pilings Abdominal pain, inconvenience or bloating always brought on by eating – sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss

‘My photo was stolen to promote diet pills’

Image caption Matt says he posted his transformation to inspire others

A personal trainer says photos he posted on Instagram to mark his fitness transformation were taken and re-posted by fake accounts to promote diet pills which he had never taken. He told the Victoria Derbyshire programme such companies feel they are untouchable.

“It was a big deal for me to put that photo online, ” says Matt Lindsay, a personal trainer based in London. “I put myself in a vulnerable position in good faith to inspire others – with sensible eating and sensible nutrition and hard training.”

He was contacted by clients who spotted the before and after pictures of his physique on an Instagram account which shares memes and has millions of followers.

The post, which was liked more than 4,300 hours, said: “SHOCKING discovery has helped so many people transform their bodies that for a limited time only.”

The post also offered free trials to new customers.

Mr Lindsay contacted the Instagram account directly and asked it to remove his painting, which it did. But he was unable to report the company associated with the advert as there were no contact details on the website.

He says he is concerned about the impact on his reputation: “I don’t like my face being a cover for something that is dangerous for people, ” he says. “I did not post my photo to plug a quick fix.

“They can say anything they want about me and I can’t do anything about it – they feel untouchable.”

Anything you post on the internet is only ever a cut and paste away from being copied and posted repeatedly, and could end up in places you might never have chosen yourself.

You merely have to look at the social networks’ struggle to contain copies of horrific content – like the 1.5 million copies of the video of the New Zealand shooter that Facebook removed in the first 24 hours after the attack – to understand the scale of the problem.

Even the tech giants, with all the cash they have to throw at preventative measures, find it difficult to manage.

Moneysaving expert Martin Lewis settled a libel suit against Facebook in January, after thousands of adverts employing his name and image as fake endorsements appeared on the platform.

Mr Lewis has never done ads.

The law states that a photograph you have taken is your intellectual property and is copyright protected – only you have the exclusive right to reproduction the image.

But digital lawyer Heather Anson says an individual no longer owns an item once it has been uploaded to social media. It then belongs to the platform, and people cannot be stopped from downloading and using it.

But, she adds, other laws can be considered if the images are used for commercial intents.

“New EU copyright laws around memes and image-sharing have enforced photos being taken down, ” she says, “including added responsibility for the social media platforms themselves when it comes to copyright – they are much more proactive.”

People can complain to the ASA via an online information sort, or go to the ICO( Information Commissioner’s Office ).

Ultimately, if someone uses your photo without permission, you can bring legal proceedings against them for copyright violation – but this hinges on whether or not you have the time, endeavour, fund and inclination to sue.

Bogus claims

A number of people have reported watching their photos lifted and used for advertising on accounts which use fake identities or stories.

The Duchess of Sussex has been the subject of bogus claims which stated she used “Keto Weight Loss” tablets. The adverts utilized photos of her before and after her pregnancy.

CJ Brough, a casting director for brand campaigns, says no brand should use an image without permission. But she says there is not a lot Mr Lindsay can do, as it was unlikely to be worth suing over a small campaign for this kind of company.

“His best bet for ‘revenge’ is to use the community spirit of Instagram to support him, ” she says. “If he was to say what happened to him, he would probably face a lot of support.”

But she said brands taking images in this way can be useful for people trying to build a social media profile, adding that what happened to Matt was one of the natural pitfalls of social media.

“If you’re tagging M& S and wearing an M& S dress, it’s not so much a grey area, ” she explains. “People want this to happen, putting day and attempt into creating content and attracting potential brand partners. That’s your stepping stone to how you might get contracts as a brand.”

The companies involved in Matt’s case were approached for remark, but none of them replied.

Instagram recently announced it is clamping down on posts which promote diets and cosmetic surgery.

Follow the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on Facebook and Twitter – and see more of our stories here.

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