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Spot False Weight Loss Product Claims

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Updated February 15, 2014

You've seen them. Ads in magazines that say, "Eat all you want and still lose weight!" or signs on the side of the road that read, "Lose 30 pounds in 30 days. Ask me how!". While you may be tempted to believe these claims, no matter how much you want to lose weight (and how quickly you want it to happen), always go with your gut. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that consumers take weight loss product advertisements and claims of effectiveness with a grain of salt. The FTC warns that advertisements promising results such as losing weight simply by taking a pill, wearing a patch, or using a cream are almost always false.

Before you purchase any weight loss products, talk to your doctor -- then be on the look-out for these false claims:

  • "Lose weight without diet or exercise!"
    This is simply impossible. To lose weight, you must burn more (by exercising) or consume fewer calories than required to maintain your weight. A product that makes this claim is a scam; as the FTC says, "Buy one and the only thing you'll lose is money."
  • "Lose weight no matter how much you eat of your favorite foods!"
    If only it were true. Eating all you want of any food can lead to weight gain, but it's especially questionable if a product suggests you can continue to eat fattening, high-sugar, high-calorie foods and still lose weight just because you're using their product.
  • "Lose weight permanently! Never diet again!"
    Even if a weight loss product helps you take off a little more weight than diet and exercise alone, the moment you stop using it, the weight is almost guaranteed to start coming back. Successful, long-term weight loss depends on making permanent lifestyle changes -- nothing else works forever.
  • "Block the absorption of fat, carbs, or calories!"
    While the OTC pill called Alli keeps a small amount of fat from being absorbed by your body, there are no weight loss products that totally keep your body from absorbing fat, carbs, or calories. For Alli to work, you have to follow a low-fat diet. Remember, Alli is the only FDA-approved pill of its kind. And no product will keep you from gaining weight while eating high-fat, high-calorie foods.
  • "Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!"
    Unless you've had gastric bypass surgery, losing a pound a day is impossible. Even it was, it would be extremely unhealthy. Losing weight rapidly -- more than about 1 or 2 pounds a week -- puts your health at risk and ensures that the weight will come back even sooner than it came off when you return to normal eating habits.
  • "Everybody will lose weight!"
    Anyone who loses weight and keeps it off does what works for them. Everyone has their own unique exercise abilities, eating habits, and health concerns. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all weight loss product that is guaranteed to work for everyone.
  • "Lose weight with our miracle diet patch or cream!"
    Pretty simple: There's absolutely no product you can put on your skin to cause you to lose weight.

So instead of investing your money in questionable products, invest your time and effort in a slow and steady 1 to 2 pound a week weight loss. The best way to do so is to eat fewer calories and increase your physical activity so you burn more energy. To lose about a pound a week, begin by cutting about 500 calories a day from your diet and becoming more active.

To learn about 10 healthy steps to losing weight, be sure to sign up for our Weight Loss 101 e-Course!

Source:

Federal Trade Commission. Weighing the Evidence in Diet Ads Nov 2004. 17 Oct 2007.

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