How To Prevent Typical Diet Scams

How To Prevent Typical Diet Scams

How To Prevent Typical Diet Scams

As a result of the worrisome rate at which our nation is gaining weight, we are spending more money each year on goods that promise quick, simple weight loss. An estimated 35 billion dollars are spent annually in the United States on weight-loss products. The issue is that, despite news stories that pique our interest in a brand-new, top-secret, "improved," weight reduction technique, the reality is that there are no quick fixes for losing weight.

Simply said, losing weight requires a variety of lifestyle decisions that must be made with a strong commitment in order to be sustained over time. Any weight loss claims made by products without a reduction in calorie intake and an increase in activity levels are false and a waste of money.

Why Do People Purchase Scam Products?

Weight loss expert Denise Bruner, MD, MPH, FASBP, is a fellow of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians. She cites the desire for instant pleasure in today's society as one of the main causes of weight reduction fraud. Our eagerness to purchase from those who guarantee "immediate results" reflects this.

The rise of scams is fueled by the rising rate of obesity in our culture and the belief that weight loss is possible without altering one's lifestyle. According to Bruner, 61% of Americans are overweight as of right now, and the percentage is rising. The market for weight loss products is enormous. After all, the claim that you can "Lose 30 pounds in 30 days" appeals to us. We want something that would "magically" absorb the calories since we don't want to have to restrict ourselves to our favorite meals.

False promises are used to lure customers into purchasing illegal weight reduction products, according to Jeannette Kopko, Senior Vice President of the Better Business Bureau for Dallas and Northeast Texas. They believe they are legitimate and provide a simpler, quicker, painless method of weight loss.

Companies are more than happy to become providers due to the enormous demand for weight reduction goods (and the associated income), regardless of whether their products are effective or not. In recent years, the number of businesses peddling fake vitamins and weight reduction items has grown significantly, according to Kopko.

How do you recognize a weight-loss fraud?

Typically, weight loss scams offer unrealistic claims. Since calorie reduction forms the cornerstone of every effective weight loss program, headlines that promise weight loss without dieting are almost always false. There aren't any reliable weight loss plans that provide you complete freedom to "eat anything you want." As FDA public relations professional Monica Revelle observes: "If anything seems too good to be true, it probably is! ”

Additional red flags that the weight reduction supplement is a fraud include:

1. Claim that there is a "secret" formula: Products that make this claim are frauds. There are no "secrets to weight loss" that are being kept from the public, according to Dr. Bruner, who feels passionately about this matter. If there were a true product that made weight loss straightforward and safe, doctors would be the first to recommend it. According to estimates, 100 persons each day in America alone die from obesity.

2. The company has no physical location. A real location and a phone number will be provided for genuine goods and services. Watch out for websites that merely provide a mailbox or a toll-free phone number staffed by "help center" employees. Although not all businesses using P.O. boxes or private mailboxes (PMBs) are fraudulent, a lot of them are, according to Kopko. Look for the initials "PMB" following a physical address to confirm that it is indeed a private mailbox that may forward mail to any location in the world. She continues, "You can't determine how excellent or genuine a product is by how professional the website seems. The Internet is also being used to advertise scams. This is just evidence of how talented their web designer was.

3. They guarantee quick weight loss. Too quick of a weight reduction is not only harmful but is typically rapidly gained again. The finest strategies encourage moderate objectives and long-term, gradual, steady weight reduction of 6–8 pounds per month. Any product that promises quick or overnight results is a scam, according to Dr. Bruner.

4. They claim that they can assist a person in reducing cellulite or fat in a certain area of the body. Body fat is reduced throughout, not just in one area, thus advertisements that suggest otherwise are false.

5. They guarantee long-term weight loss. Since lifestyle changes are required to maintain permanent weight loss, no product can do this.

You may safeguard yourself from dubious items and save money by staying away from products that display the aforementioned "red flags" in their advertising.

Types of Weight Loss Scams

Scams involving weight loss can range from being downright unlawful (and even harmful) to being only slightly unethical. There are many levels of customer deception, according to Kopko. Some are frauds where the victim sends money but receives nothing in return. Another type of fraud is when a consumer contributes money and receives a useless item, such as a sugar pill, in exchange.

Other weight reduction frauds employ dubious techniques, such as making claims about an item without any supporting data from research. In still other frauds, the product has extremely low quantities of active substances, so the individual doesn't achieve the promised outcome, Kopko continues.

Even if they don't have the same components or level of quality as actual items, some products are still successful due to their names. The user may think, "Oh, I can buy this a lot cheaper here...," but be cautious and check it out completely first, Dr. Bruner advises.

Throughout her time working for the Better Business Bureau, Kopko has witnessed a wide variety of weight loss schemes. She recalls, "Years ago, there was a store in our neighborhood that offered 'weight loss spectacles,' with one lens being blue and the other brown. The two hues allegedly "confused the brain" and prevented the user from becoming hungry. "Another deception was weight reduction "bath powder," which one would pour into the tub and which guaranteed weight loss," she continues.

Nowadays, phony weight-loss supplements including pills, powders, patches, and herbal teas are common.

A powder took a couple hours before bedtime was one such hoax. It was claimed that the fat would "melt away" while you slept, according to Kopko. There was nothing in the powder to assist; the sole advantage was that the user gave up their bedtime snack when they took it. And after purchasing the powder, the customer was inundated with further offerings from the business that would "improve the performance of the product." Everything was a gigantic hoax.

Over the years, Dr. Bruner has also observed a number of weight loss frauds. "I've seen individuals putting inserts in their shoes, and the producers claim that they hit pressure spots to relieve hunger (it doesn't work)," the speaker says. Another con is wearing specific attire to hide problem regions or using a "chocolate patch" to lessen chocolate cravings. She observes that another well-liked weight-loss craze in Europe is receiving attention: "Right now, mesotherapy, injecting a chemical into the muscle, is a highly popular hoax in Europe."

According to Shirley Rooker, a spokeswoman for the FTC, the agency recently exposed a different well-known weight loss scam, and the perpetrator was ordered to repay millions of dollars to individuals who had fallen for its false advertising. "The Enforma System promised that its products would help the body burn more calories when just standing or sitting around doing nothing, even while sleeping," the author writes. Additionally, the TV advertisements claimed that people could consume foods like pizza, fried chicken, and other high-calorie, high-fat foods while still losing weight. There was allegedly no proof that Fat Trapper and Exercise in a Bottle actually worked, according to the FTC lawsuit.

Why Aren’t They Stopped?

The subject of why weight loss scams are still tolerated is brought up given the vast number of them that exist (you simply need to open a magazine or browse the Internet to see some).

According to Kopko, "I receive a lot of calls from individuals asking why fraud isn't being stopped. The short answer is that we cannot look into a scam until we get complaints. She continues by saying that scam victims frequently fail to disclose their crimes. They either don't want the hassle or are unsure of what to do. The complaints we get probably only represent a small portion of the overall issue.

She cautions that continued operation does not imply dependability. "Merely because a company is selling weight reduction goods doesn't always guarantee that they are legitimate; it's possible that they are just undetected at this point. Because of this, it's crucial to practice informed consumption.

Law enforcement will intervene after receiving complaints and begin looking into weight reduction scams. They frequently pursue illicit enterprises and require them to compensate their victims. Not all dubious weight reduction products, however, may be handled in this way, according to Kopko: "Some frauds might not be illegal-just immoral. Instead of directly declaring benefits, they imply them in their product marketing, which is illegal and considered misleading advertising.

Because of the choice of who has jurisdiction and the time required to assemble the evidence to start a company's prosecution, halting a fraud occasionally takes some time. For instance, according to the FDA's Monica Revelle, they only have authority over fraud involving products that have been demonstrated to be hazardous. We keep an eye on the efficacy and safety of weight reduction products, but we lack authority if there is no proof that harm has been caused.

The FTC intervenes in several instances of misleading advertising and leverages data acquired by other authorities to support its case against a corporation. Kopko claims that, although lacking authority, the Better Business Bureau facilitates their work. We retain records on businesses, including complaints made against them, and we give this information to law enforcement and government organizations.

How To Protect Yourself From Scams

Asking a skilled doctor who specializes in weight reduction for assistance is one of the greatest ways to protect yourself against weight loss fraud (bariatric medicine). Sometimes, this entails first accepting a realistic perspective on weight loss. "Losing weight isn't straightforward or easy," says Dr. Bruner.

In essence, it entails calorie restriction and exercise, but it must be tailored to the individual. For example, a person with insulin resistance requires a diet strong in protein and low in carbohydrates to prevent them from feeling hungry, while those with allergies (such to wheat or yeast) need a diet that excludes these foods.

Check the product out with your doctor beforehand to avoid being duped. Additionally, if at all possible, avoid "impulse purchasing." Start by checking out the goods and the business's credibility with consumer advocacy groups. Long-term, this can help you avoid needless money and disappointment.

Another way to avoid scams is to research a company before making a purchase by visiting websites that look into consumer fraud. According to Kopko, "The Better Business Bureau participates in the Sentinel Database (online at, which enables consumers and law enforcement to examine trends and complaints against firms. You may research a firm nationwide by visiting our national website at Look for diet fads and frauds that have been reported by clicking the "consumer info" tab.

Scams involving weight reduction are becoming more prevalent, and the number of businesses utilizing deceptive advertising is growing. You may avoid excessive money and disappointment by taking the time to properly research a firm and its products and deciding to collaborate with a licensed doctor on your weight reduction goals. The best part is that you may start along the path to actual, attainable weight loss objectives while preserving your health.

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