In 2004, an estimated 4.8 million Americans bought bogus weight-loss supplements, patches, creams or other products – making it the top rated scam according to the Federal Trade Commission. This is further proof that there is no shortage of charlatans out there preying on people’s desperation to lose weight.
I’m not exactly sure how they came up with the criteria for what constitutes a “scam”, but here are some red flags that people need to be wary of when it comes to sketchy weight loss products;
- Promises of fast, permanent or easy (usually it is all of the above) weight loss
- Lacks scientific evidence to support claims, instead relying on glowing testimonials (which may or may not be authentic)
- Claims you can lose weight without exercising or making dietary modifications.
- Claims to remove fat from certain areas of your body (can you say “thigh master?”)
- Uses terms such as “miracle”, “scientific breakthrough”, “secret formula” and “revolutionary” to describe their product.
- Isn’t sold through regular commercial distribution channels (internet, mail order, multi level marketing).
- Claims that there is a singular compound/factor is keeping you from losing weight (inevitably, they are selling something that will rectify the culprit). Read: Cortisol-reducers, HGH enhancers etc.
It also doesn’t hurt to be skeptical of anything sold via an infomercial. It is surprisingly easy to concoct a convincing and yet completely untruthful TV spot. Check out Dateline’s feature on the making of an infomercial here.
It comes down to the old adage “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. There is no substitute for proper, sensible nutrition and hard work.