The diet patch is the latest no-effort, no-pain, only-gain slimming product to arrive here from America. The claims made for the No-Diet Dermopatch are indeed miraculous: if you wear the patch for six weeks, you'll lose approximately 5lbs in weight.
No calorie-counting or exercise is necessary. All you have to do is stick one of the rather odd-smelling patches onto your upper arm or hip, and then change it every three days during the six-week period. The fatter you are, the better it works.
Advanced Health and Beauty Limited, which is selling the patch at £34.95 for a 42-day supply, says it works by releasing its "100% natural contents" into your skin. These contents apparently include minerals derived from seaweed which gently stimulate the metabolism to burn fat.
So, could a patch stuffed with seaweed extracts - or extract of anything, for that matter - actually help you lose weight? The experts are disappointingly sceptical. "It's highly unlikely that anything absorbed through the skin can make you lose weight," says Dr Wynnie Chan, of the British Nutrition Foundation. "There are no scientific studies to support such an argument. Substances in the patch can probably be absorbed through the skin, but I would have thought that the amounts would be minimal."
Another nutrition scientist, Dr Sarah Schenker, says the marine extracts are unlikely to be more stimulating to the metabolism than substances such as caffeine. "I think it's effect would be very mild indeed," she says.
In the interests of fairness - and despite a rather disturbing warning on the No-Diet Dermopatch packaging that they should not be stuck anywhere near the abdomen or a woman's breasts - we will be carrying out an unscientific trial of the patches and reporting back on their success, or failure, in six weeks time.