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    Lose weight by watching TV (but you may cluck like a chicken)
    By Becky Jungbauer | August 24th 2009 09:37 AM | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Becky

    A scientist and journalist by training, I enjoy all things science, especially science-related humor. My column title is a throwback to Jane

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    Behold, I bring thee tidings of the secret to weight loss: it's all in the mind.

    Simple, eh? And you spent all that money on gym memberships, diet supplements, and Jenny Craig dinners.

    But before you chuck it all and send me your life savings in thanks for divulging my knowledge (which you are still welcome to do), note that the mind-body connection as promoted on Australian television was in breach of commercial television code, and you still have to buy the CDs.

    The Australian Communications and Media Authority found that Channel Nine was guilty of breaching two television codes of practice after it tried to hypnotise its viewers late last year, according to several Australian news outfits.

    The more I drink, the more I shrink


    Channel Nine's show A Current Affair aired a weight-loss segment in September last year called Think Slim. "Throughout the segment," the Sydney Morning Herald reports, "references were made by the program's host, the reporter and a hypnotherapist, to the fact the segment would feature a demonstration of a hypnotic process designed to assist with weight loss."

    The hypnotherapist, Mark Stephens, was also the creator of the Think Slim hypnosis kit. The Herald further noted that reporter Ben McCormack told the audience that "tonight, in an Australian television first, Mark Stephens says he is going to hypnotise you." Then, for a minute, the station aired a hypnosis segment.


    Trust me, I'm a black belt in Ju-Jutsu, a teacher of Tai-Chi, a certified hypnotherapist and maker of all things awesome.


    During the hypnosis Mr. Stephens told viewers to think such phrases as "the more active I am, the more fat I burn" and "the more I drink, the more I shrink."

    It all depends on how you define "say"


    A viewer complained to the station and to the TV regulatory commission. The commission found that Channel Nine breached two parts of the code, regarding broadcasting hypnosis and failing to respond to a complaint.

    But Channel Nine says there had been no attempt to hypnotise viewers, according to the commission: "Nine maintains that, while the program included comments by [Mark Stephens] such as 'we are going to hypnotise the nation' ... these comments were made for dramatic effect to engage the viewer and were not statements of fact."

    Hmm. I beg to differ.

    Anyway, thanks to the kerfuffle, a draft code of practice for commercial television, which is proposed to replace the existing code, has been released for public comment (comments due to Sept. 25).

    Meanwhile, the story is still linked on the Current Affair site. Salute to samzenpus at Slashdot for the story heads-up.