Protect yourself against weight loss scams

tip126In September 2002, the Federal Trade Commission staff released a report, Weight Loss Advertising: An Analysis of Current Trends, that found that nearly 40% of the ads they studied made at least one representation that almost certainly is false and 55% of the ads made at least one representation that is very likely to be false or, at the very least, lacks adequate substantiation.

Signs of a possible scam or dangerous product

  • Uses words such as "miracle," "secret," and "ancient remedy"
  • Claims of losing a pound or more a day
  • Claims of clinical proof with no evidence
  • Claims you can lose weight without diet or exercise
  • Not easily obtained
  • Claims of permanent weight loss
  • Claims of no more failure
  • Claims of being safe/all-natural
  • Money-back guarantee
  • It sounds too good to be true!


Losing weight by diet and exercise is no quick trick. To lose one pound, you must burn 3,500 calories by either eating less, exercising more, or a combination of the two. To maintain your weight, the number of calories consumed must equal number of calories burned. Healthy weight loss is best done slowly, but even after losing weight there are no lifetime guarantees. Maintaining your new weight requires effort as well. When you are ready to lose weight, talk to your doctor and/or registered dietitian about how to get started.



Reviewed by Paige Reddan, MS., RD., LN., CDE. 4/14

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