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Attn! R U Tired of Being Fat? [Warning: This Message Sent From Unverified Email]

OMG! Spambots are exploiting those supposedly tech-savvy college kids. How? By attacking their delicate self-image, of course. According to a new study by the Southern Medical Journal 41% of undergrads with weight problems are clicking anonymous email solicitations for weight loss products. And Almost 20% of that group is actually even buying them. (No word yet if they are using student loan money or tapping the parental ATM).

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Spam Sandwich

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OMG! Spambots are exploiting those supposedly tech-savvy college kids. How? By attacking their delicate self-image, of course. According to a new study by the Southern Medical Journal 41% of undergrads with weight problems are clicking anonymous email solicitations for weight loss products. And Almost 20% of that group is actually even buying them. (No word yet if they are using student loan money or tapping the parental ATM).

Dr. Joshua Fogel, an associate economics professor at Brooklyn College pioneered the study, which shows that kids with perceived weight problems are three times more likely to open and buy such digitally offered schlock, regardless of the fact that it might be defective or even dangerous. Or worse, a scam to pilfer more funds from the self-conscious a la Extenze “natural male enhancement” kingpin Steve Warshak.

Most used the act of purchasing to combat increased psychological stress, a quick way to feel like they are doing something proactive. Maybe they should make gym class mandatory in college. Whatever happened to just going for a run (free! Act now!)?

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About the author

Ben Paynter is a senior writer at Fast Company covering social impact, the future of philanthropy, and innovative food companies. His work has appeared in Wired, Bloomberg Businessweek, and the New York Times, among other places.

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