Rina Raphael, author of The Gospel of Wellness, said the wellness industry can trick women into buying unnecessary items.
Some mothers feel compelled to buy organic products, although there is no research indicating its superior health benefits.
Women gassed by medical providers may turn to natural remedies, which can pose serious health risks.
The COVID-19 pandemic has helped propel the wellness industry into a trillion-dollar business – but part of that success is based on a well-documented scam problem that drives many women to buy useless and overpriced products.
That’s according to a new book, The Gospel of Wellness, by Rina Raphael, a longtime journalist on women’s wellness and health.
“Wellness has become an aspirational lifestyle,” Raphael told Insider.
In his book, Raphael describes how wellness brands use certain techniques to tackle women’s anxieties in order to increase sales, under the guise of promoting health and happiness.
“We believe that if we buy Gwyneth supplements [Paltrow] buys, we will look like her and become like her,” Raphaël said. ” Often, [products and practices] are more based on a fear campaign that terrifies consumers about certain “toxic chemicals” without fully explaining the nuance. »
Here are three ways the wellness industry disproportionately pushes women to buy unnecessary — and sometimes harmful — things, according to Raphael.
Marketing to women who feel rejected by their doctors
Raphael said women’s legitimate concerns about the healthcare system could lead them to seek out natural remedies. Women are more likely to report encountering medical gaslighting or when clinicians are unaware of a patient’s symptoms.
“For many women, traditional Western medicine seems designed to make money, not to meet their needs in a meaningful way,” Raphael said in his book.
But many alternative medicine companies also make money – selling products without scientific evidence that they actually work.
Take Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness and lifestyle brand. On day one, Goop’s supplement line sold $100,000 worth of expensive products that had little evidence of effectiveness, Raphael reported. Paltrow had to pay $145,000 in civil penalties in 2018 for product advertisements lacking reliable scientific evidence.
Raphael said the rise in supplements could be the most harmful of all wellness trends because of its potential to cause serious health complications.
The supplement industry is unregulated and poorly researched, meaning doctors have no consensus on safe dosage or known side effects of alternative treatments. Cardiologists told Insider they’ve seen an increase in heart problems in young people resulting from herbal supplements.
“A lot of alternative medicine can be very dangerous because it deprives people of real therapeutic treatments that could actually help them,” she told Insider.
Promoting “natural” products which may cause more harm than synthetic products
The natural beauty movement took off over the past decade as more women began to shun lab-made ingredients, Raphael reported. According to a 2018 survey, three-quarters of millennial women said “natural” ingredients are an important factor in their purchases.
With it, we saw the rise in popularity of cult favorite Supergoop! and Honest Beauty by Jessica Alba. These brands, among others, have marketed themselves as being free of synthetic ingredients, like parabens and phthalates, which are used as preservatives in cosmetics. Long-term exposure to high levels of these chemicals is linked to disease.
But studies reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not find significant health risks from the amount of phthalates or paraben preservatives in cosmetics. Unlike the supplement industry, the federal government regulates cosmetics and bans products with harmful ingredients, cosmetic toxicologist and founder of The Eco Well podcast Jen Novakovich told Insider.
Cutting out these ingredients for less effective natural alternatives can lead to bacterial contamination, according to Raphael in The Gospel of Wellness. Reuters reported that dermatologists have seen an increase in itching, bumps and other allergic reactions linked to botanical or natural ingredients in beauty products.
“I see a lot more skepticism when it comes to clean beauty,” Raphael said. “Much of the early reports about clean beauty were not verified with toxicologists or medical experts, and now we are seeing much more nuanced conversations about what clean beauty is and should we be so terrified of our body wash.”
Organic food companies go after worried mothers
Women spend more time taking care of the house, which means they make more decisions about which groceries to buy, according to The Gospel of Wellness.
Organic food brands or companies that grow foods with fewer synthetic pesticides know this and appeal to mothers’ anxiety about the safety of their children. And they do it for profit: Consumer Reports estimates that organic foods are 47% more expensive than their non-organic counterparts.
The evidence does not indicate that organic foods are better for consumers. The FDA has said that pesticide residues do not pose a public health concern because most foods sprayed with these chemicals contain residues well below safety standards. And the research does not indicate that eating organic foods leads to better nutrition or better health outcomes.
“The organic industry is betting on consumers confusing agricultural standards with supposed health benefits,” Raphael says in his book. “Specifically, they rely on mothers concerned about feeding their children well and fearing the overestimated risk of pesticides.”
Read the original Insider article