7 Ways to Spot a Weight Loss Scam

By Mike Howard

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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;

  1. Promises of fast, permanent or easy (usually it is all of the above) weight loss
  2. Lacks scientific evidence to support claims, instead relying on glowing testimonials (which may or may not be authentic)
  3. Claims you can lose weight without exercising or making dietary modifications.
  4. Claims to remove fat from certain areas of your body (can you say “thigh master?”)
  5. Uses terms such as “miracle”, “scientific breakthrough”, “secret formula” and “revolutionary” to describe their product.
  6. Isn’t sold through regular commercial distribution channels (internet, mail order, multi level marketing).
  7. 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.


  1. Joy

    Liquid patch therapy works best for the blood type O people due to their need for iodine. I have found that if one is in good physical condition, fairly lean and active then the liquid patch will be an accelerator to keep the fat off. But you have to work at it by eating good proteins and not a lot of carbs. Food combining really works but it requires discipline. Then, and only then, I would say that this product might help.

  2. bob

    rec’d liquid patch on 9/27/2010–start wgt. 216#
    today is 10/19/2010 wgt. thia a.m. 220.2#–applied
    it each day per instructions and after 2 weeks have
    gained four pounds instead of losing four pounds
    per week. don’t waste your money. i am returning
    the three tubes today. see if i get my money back!!!!

  3. Tammy

    Adtkins Diet works very well. Also moderate exercise. I walked twice a day. I lost 30 lbs in 3 months! Check it out.

  4. tammy

    THE Liquid Patch Therapy absolutly doesn’t work!!!!
    I am not too much over weight but what a scam so don’t order it, it really doesn’t work and when I talked to customer service about the item when I first purchased it they were very rude and didn’t know much about the product or my questions and actually hung up on me!!! All i can say is don’t waste your time!!!

  5. Selma

    I just got an offer from Dr. G. Adams to try Liquid Patch Therapy. Did anyone try this? Is it working..safe?

  6. T.I.

    Hmm… I never have been one to believe in artificial stuff, like Alli, etc. Also, I personally do not have a weight problem, but my brother did. He managed to drop about 50 lbs. in a yearish, simply by dropping cokes and drinking green tea instead. My thoughts on the matter- if you drink a 12 oz. can of coke (Dr. Pepper, RC, doesn’t matter) or more a day, stop. Drink tea, water, juice or milk instead. Maybe he was just a fluke, but last year, he weighed 250-260 lbs. and now he weighs between 199-210 lbs. (He is 6′ 4″ so this isn’t too overweight.) The caffeine, sugar, carbonation, and high fructose stuff is just bad for you. But, that’s just my 2 cents.

  7. kay

    i know of a weight-loss regemin that works-i’ve used it to lose 40lbs.,and i am still using it to reach my ideal weight.basically, it’s a low-carb diet,but it allows you the week ends off from 9 a.m- 9 p.m sunday.it really works! try it..

  8. Jenn

    I want to make the general public aware of Quick Weight Loss Centers. While I cant say they are an outright scam, you will lose weight if you follow their program, its not a program I would recommend to anybody. Its very expensive and if you go off the program even a little you will gain weight and very rapidly.

    When you sign up for the plan you are given a meal plan and a ton of very expensive supplements. Then you go into their center and weigh in several times a week. My first clue that the program probably wouldn’t work should have been the overweight “counselors” that were at the center I went to. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and thought maybe the have once been even larger than they currently were and were in the process of losing weight on the Quick Weight Loss plan. One claimed to have lost weight using the plan (she was the smallest but still by no means thin by my standards) and another claimed she was on the plan but I saw her at Target recently (after about 9 months) and she is still as fat as always.

    Anyway, like I said, you will lose weight if you follow the meal plan but it’s a plan that is impossible for anybody to stick with long term. They claim that once you reach your goal weight you can slowly add back in “normal” foods under their supervision but I don’t see how you would ever keep your weight off if you did that. Its not like once your body reaches some magic weight you are going to be able to eat the foods that would cause you gain weight when you went off plan when you were losing weight.

    I think the goal of Quick Weight Loss is to keep you on their plan long term because one of the many products they sell is their “lifetime maintenance program.” Why would you need that if once you lost your weight you would have the ability to keep it off? After all they claim they are teaching you to “eat right.”

    The biggest part of their plan and the biggest money makers for them are the pricey supplements they push on you. I only had 25 lbs to lose and my plan with supplements cost almost $2000. It seemed every time I went in (3 times a week) they were trying to sell me something which really irked me. The whole reason I even got on their plan in the first place was so I could get off RX diet pills (ie supplements.) Had I wanted to keep buying diet products I would have never tried Quick Weight Loss. I haven’t been into their office/store in almost 9 months and every single week one of their “counselors” will call me (I let it go to voicemail) with some special they are having on some supplement.

    Before anybody pays for the Quick Weight Loss program I would recommend you just go to your family doctor and have a health assessment and ask for an RX of phentermine (your doctor is qualified to say if you are healthy enough to take it or not) and an eating plan. Then buy a good pair of walking shoes and hit the pavement. In the long run (no pun intended) you will save a ton of money and see real long term results.

  9. fenphedra

    Good post.I do fantastic amounts of shopping on the internet, and use it for most of my diet/fitness related research.

  10. Proactol

    Yes unfortunately some of us are so desperate to lose weight quickly, all we do is lose money quickly by purchasing unreputable products. Do your homework, read reviews from consumers, and you should be more able to make a good decision