Weight loss scams are absolutely everywhere, promising miraculous results with little or no effort at all – but how do you tell the fact from fiction?
Enter a weight loss related search term into a search engine and check out the ads that accompany your search results.
Now, there are some that are advertising genuine and valuable aids to weight loss. However, there are many more that are false, misleading and in some cases downright lies!
But how do you evaluate the claims made in the ads for the products that the advertisers are selling?
Rule of thumb? Anything that looks too good to be true probably – almost certainly – is!
There’s big money to be made from the 60% of Americans, Brits…well people in almost any developed country, that are overweight or obese. And the manufacturers of the products and those that retail them know it.
How do You Spot the Weight Loss Scams ?
The sad truth is that despite increasingly tight regulation, advertising making unsubstantiated claims of ‘miracle’ weight loss are becoming more and more widespread.
Whilst regulatory bodies continue to crack down and fine the perpetrators and educate consumers, more and more products hit the market.
In an effort to protect consumers, regulatory bodies like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US and the Office for Fair Trading (OFT) in the UK have produced some guidelines.
If you come across ads or products making any of the following claims, the odds are pretty good on them being weight loss scams:
#1. Weight loss claims of more than 2lbs a week
You’ve seen the claims, “Lose 30lbs in 30 days”. Whilst it’s possible to lose more than 2lbs in the first week or so of a diet, a weekly weight loss in excess of that is not sustainable.
1-2lbs is the maximum healthy weight loss recommended by all reputable health bodies
#2. Significant weight loss without diet or exercise
Impossible, reducing the amount of calories you eat and increasing the number you burn through exercise are the only ways to healthy weight loss
#3. Eat whatever you like and still lose weight
Again impossible. You won’t lose weight without eating fewer calories than your body burns.
Switching to a balanced diet with the optimum proportion of foods from the major food groups is essential
#4. Causes permanent weight loss, even once you stop taking the product
No product will deliver that. Only a healthy diet, exercise and a change of attitude, behavior and lifestyle will deliver permanent weight loss.
#5. Anyone will lose weight using this product
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss. People are different and what works for one person, is just as likely to not work for the next one.
#6. Claims that a product will block fat, carbs or calories resulting in significant weight loss
The only fat blocker for which there is a scientific evidence base to support its efficacy is Xenical (Orlistat), a licensed, prescription only drug.
#7. Anything that you put on or rub on your skin that is claimed to cause significant weight loss
There is no substance known to man that will “melt fat” and lead to any substantial weight loss.
A reduction of 500 calories a day is necessary to lose a pound a week. Do you really think a patch or cream will burn anywhere near that many calories a day?
So, What Sort of Products Should I Watch Out For…?
Where do we start!
we’re not going to name specific brands or products, but anything that makes any of the seven claims listed above is a candidate for a weight loss scam.
Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t some supplements on the market that can aid weight loss when used with a healthy diet and exercise. It’s just that the diet and exercise will most probably be responsible for most of the weight lost!
Check out our page on healthy weight loss supplements for more information on what does and doesn’t work.
You may also find the FTC website useful for finding out more about the Red Flag Campaign and Operation Big Fat Lie.
The OFT website is also a good source of information on how to spot weight loss scams.
So, just as the old snake oil salesmen in the Wild West duped many a consumer looking for a solution to their problems, the weight loss scam merchants are hard at work conning desperate dieters out of their hard earned cash.
Overweight and obese people are often vulnerable and understandably looking for a quick fix to their weight problems. Weight loss scams, however, do not provide the answer.
Steer well clear of the dubious claims and follow the time served routes for a new shape – a healthy diet and exercise.
You’ll save yourself both the money and disappointment and may actually get the results you’re looking for.