Larry the Cable Guy is the latest celebrity spokesperson for a commercial weight loss program. The comedian has lost 50 pounds on NutriSystem and boasts on his website, "Now I look just like Brad Pitt only totally different." Print and TV ads air later this month.
Larry, whose real name is Dan Whitney, joins the ranks of stars promoting diet plans. Queen Latifah became the new spokeswoman for Jenny Craig in January. "For me, it's not about a body image sort of thing. I feel pretty confident about who I am," she said at a news conference. "But I do realize that I am a role model for a lot of people."
But what do these endorsements mean to the average person? Not much, some say.
Claudia Vercellotti, 38, of Toledo, Ohio, who is blogging about her weight-loss journey here, says the impact is offset by the fact stars have more money and access to more resources than the average person.
"We're not in the same fishbowl, though we're all swimming upstream toward getting healthy. We have similar goals, but it's a bit of a stretch when you compare my situation or those like me," she says.
Paulette Griffis, 40, of Chula Vista, Calif., a working mom with two teenagers, lost more than 50 pounds on Jenny Craig. She agrees celebs have a leg up.
Stars "can afford to have personal chefs, personal trainers, nannies. They're not average Joes who have to go to work and raise a family," Griffis says. "I have to go to work, get home, go to the gym and figure out how to cook healthy."
Still, celebrities build a following for these programs, says Tim Taylor, 47, who owns his own advertising agency in Jacksonville. He lost 87 pounds by following Weight Watchers and exercising and has kept it off for more than a year.
"I do think celebrity sells. I think it always will," although a downside is that someone who is famous today may not be so hot tomorrow.
"If you say to someone my age, 'Who is Fergie?' they would say the Duchess of York, while my daughter would say, 'Duchess of what?' To her generation, Fergie is the sexy singer for the Black Eyed Peas." (Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, is a longtime spokeswoman for Weight Watchers.)
Even so, "Ever since Jack LaLanne encouraged my grandmother to get up off that sofa in the early '60s, the celebrity endorsement has played a vital role in marketing a healthier lifestyle to Americans."