Menu
Menu
Find a Doctor
Reducing Your Funds, Not Your Fat - Spotting Diet Scams

Reducing Your Funds, Not Your Fat - Spotting Diet Scams

updated

Lose weight without dieting or exercise! Drop those extra pounds fast! Our herbal patch makes fat disappear! Ads for fast and easy weight loss plans and products are popping up everywhere. However, many of the companies behind these purported weight loss solutions clearly don't believe in truth in advertising. If they did, their ads would probably include slogans more along these lines: “Ingest some questionable pills and lose nothing but your money!”

With the recent media attention focused on the country's obesity epidemic and increased interest in the health and fitness industry, some companies and individuals are excited about helping you lose, all right. Unfortunately, they are mostly interested in helping you lose your money, not your extra weight.

Making an Easy Target

As Americans, we want to lose weight and get in shape, but we want it to be easy. Part of the reason this country is getting fatter is the fact that we have come to rely on convenience and instant gratification. We think, if we can get a Whopper with cheese combo (over 1,100 calories) without even getting out of our car or can get a Meat Lover's pan pizza (530 calories and 31 fat grams per slice) delivered without leaving our couch, why can't we get rid of those extra calories just as easily?

Preying on this laziness, many opportunistic businesses and individuals have created quick weight loss and diet scams. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that 4.8 million Americans were victims of weight loss scams, placing weight loss schemes at the top of the FTC's list of scams in 2007.

Weight Loss Scams to Watch Out For

Weight loss scams come in all shapes and sizes. Ultimately, no matter how far-fetched an idea may seem, there is still a chance that it will be promoted as the next greatest cure for excess weight.

Common weight loss scams include:

  • Weight loss pills – Claims suggest that diet pills are metabolism boosters, fat blockers, cellulite reducers, appetite suppressants, or any combination of these.
  • Diet drinks – Unlike meal replacement shakes, diet drinks like herbal weight loss teas and Slim Coffee promise results without your having to make any change in your diet.
  • Weight loss jewelry – From magnetic bracelets to acupressure earrings, these products tend to do nothing but adorn your body (and many times they don't succeed in doing that).
  • Diet patches and creams – These products promise that they contain ingredients that will promote weight loss when absorbed through the skin.
  • Weight loss candyHoodia lollipops are trying to fill the void left by products like Ayds appetite-suppressant candy, which were very popular in the 1970s and early 1980s.
  • Electronic muscle stimulators – Although muscle stimulators, like TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) machines, are used by trainers, physical therapists, and medical personnel, they are not FDA-approved for weight loss or muscle toning.
  • Fad diets – Many "new" easy weight loss solutions require you to purchase a book, video series, supplements, or any combination of these. Often, these plans either do not work or are extremely complex and costly.
  • Weight loss gadgets – While treadmills, weight machines, and elliptical trainers may help you get fit (as long as you use them as more than a place to hang your clothes), many weight loss gadgets (e.g., abdominal wheels and rockers) do not produce the promised results.

Beware of Buzz Words

Marketers of weight loss scams know what we want to hear, which is why they tell it to us. Because the capacity for losing weight varies from person to person, no product can provide the perfect solution for everyone, no matter what they claim. Be wary of any diet program or weight loss products that are being promoted using terms like:

  • Guaranteed results
  • Rapid or fast weight loss
  • Permanent weight loss
  • No diet or exercise needed
  • Eat whatever you want
  • Secret weight loss cure
  • Lose weight while you sleep
  • Breakthrough discovery
  • No effort needed
  • Miraculous results
  • Clinically proven

Weight loss scams that promise a money-back guarantee often have fine print filled with loopholes to keep you from getting your money back.

Be Skeptical of Unfounded Claims from Experts and Users

Many times we feel better if we see endorsements from doctors, have a chance to read testimonials, or see before-and-after photographs of people who experienced the promised results. Unfortunately, scammers have no problem creating false endorsements and testimonials. With today's technology, before-and-after photographs can easily be altered to place one person's head on another person's body. Don't fall for "amazing" user photos.

Research before Reaching for Your Wallet

Too often we get excited by the prospect of losing weight that we jump in and make a weight loss purchase without understanding what we’re actually buying. It is only later, after the product has let us down, that we research the product. Taking this step before you buy could save you time and money in the long run. And, depending on the product, a small amount of research could save your health.

You've heard it before – if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Check online for unrelated third-party customer reviews; research the product with the FTC, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Better Business Bureau; and review the Consumer Affairs website for scam alerts.

Real Secret to Weight Loss

Psst. I've got the real secret to the best way to lose weight. I'm not even going to charge you. This weight loss trick has been passed down from generation to generation. The skeptics will tell you that this solution is too simple and it just won't work. But this weight loss secret has helped many lose weight and keep it off and has the support of health professionals.

So what's my two-part weight control plan? Diet and exercise. It might not be what you want to hear, but study after study has found that the safest and most effective way to reach an optimal weight is through a healthy diet and an exercise program.

But Diet and Exercise Just Don't Work

Maybe you've tried to diet and exercise to lose weight and you couldn't drop the unwanted pounds. Where should you turn? Take my advice; you should still shy away from these "miracle" weight loss solutions. These gimmicks aren't the extra help you need. These products will only cause your bank account to slim down.

There are no one-size-fits-all diets or exercise plans. If Weight Watchers® didn't work for you, try Jenny Craig® or the Atkins Diet® or, better yet, discuss the issue with your doctor or a certified nutritionist. If you're not a runner, try swimming or working with a trainer.

If you want to lose weight, there is no miracle cure. You need to find a healthy solution that meets your needs and then put in the work. You might not like this plan, but at least this one is not a scam – guaranteed.

Want More Information?

Contact a Doctor Near You.