Spotting weight-loss scams
By Gail Poulton, Pure Matters
Turn on the TV, glance at a newspaper, pick up a magazine, or surf the Internet and you're apt to find products and programs promising to help you lose weight. Many of us want to shed pounds to look and feel better, so such advertising finds a ready audience.
Unfortunately, looking for quick and easy weight loss, people too often opt for pills, patches, and creams that aren't worth the money or the risk, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which regulates advertising of these products.
Fad Diets Fade Out
People also turn to fad diets hoping for dramatic results. These diets may help you lose weight in the short term, but you're not likely to keep it off. Most of us can't stick with the demands of a diet that severely limits food amount, restricts food choices, or requires special food.
Always carefully evaluate marketing claims. Advertising is becoming more sophisticated, so consumers need to protect themselves, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates safety, manufacturing, and product labeling of health products.
Recognize a Scam
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Truth is, there are no foods or pills that will burn or melt fat away. You should be skeptical of any diet or product that:
- Offers quick weight loss of more than 1 to 2 pounds a week
- Promises you'll lose without exercising or cutting calories
- Guarantees permanent weight loss
- Assures you that it works for everybody
- Purports to work by wearing it or rubbing it on your body
- Bases claims on testimonials or before-and-after pictures
- Carries a hefty price tag for seminars, pills, or prepackaged meals
- Pledges "complete satisfaction or your money back"
To lose weight and keep it off: Eat a healthy diet, exercise to burn more calories than you take in, and aim for a weight loss of ½ to 1 pound a week, advises the American Dietetic Association.
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