QUICKLINKS AND VIEW OPITONS
How to identify a weight loss scam
Tuesday, April 19, 2005 4:49 am Email this article
The U.S. Federal Trade Commision (FTC) has identified seven false claims to look for before buying weight loss products. False claim #1: “Lose weight without diet or exercise!”
“Achieving a healthy weight takes work,” the FTC notes. “Take a pass on any product that promises miraculous results without the effort. Buy one and the only thing you’ll lose is money.”
Comment: I disagree with this being a false claim. There are a number of products and prescription drugs that have been shown to cause weight loss without diet or exercise: ephedrine and caffeine, guar gum, glucomannan, 5-HTP, phentermine, Tenuate (diethylpropion), Meridia (sibutramine), and I assume all other prescription diet pills such as Xenical (orlistat), etc.
In fact, all effective weight loss products will cause weight loss without diet and exercise or else they would not be effective.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, weight loss drug studies did not include diet and exercise. They would give half the people the drug, and half the people a placebo, and see if the drug caused more weight loss than placebo. If it didn’t, it wasn’t effective.
However today, no respectable doctor or researcher would dare say, “Just take this pill and don’t worry about diet or exercise.” They all say that diet pills should only be used as part of a total weight loss program that includes diet and exercise.
False claim #2: “Lose weight no matter how much you eat of your favorite foods!”
“Beware of any product that claims that you can eat all you want of high-calorie foods and still lose weight,” according to the FTC. “Losing weight requires sensible food choices. Filling up on healthy vegetables and fruits can make it easier to say no to fattening sweets and snacks.”
Comment: I agree with this one.
False claim #3: “Lose weight permanently! Never diet again!”
“Even if you’re successful in taking the weight off, permanent weight loss requires permanent lifestyle changes,” says the FTC. “Don’t trust any product that promises once-and-for-all results without ongoing maintenance.”
Comment: This certainly makes sense.
False claim #4: “Block the absorption of fat, carbs, or calories!”
“Doctors, dieticians, and other experts agree that there’s simply no magic non-prescription pill that will allow you to block the absorption of fat, carbs, or calories,” according to the FTC. “The key to curbing your craving for those ‘downfall foods’ is portion control. Limit yourself to a smaller serving or a slimmer slice.”
Comment: The FTC is not telling the true here either. Weight loss studies with dietary fibers, such as guar gum, glucomannan, and even psyllium, have found that they reduce the amount of calories absorbed by 30 to 180 calories per day.
Studies with green tea and oolong tea have also found that they inhibit an enzyme required the digestion of dietary fats—pancreatic lipase—in dose-dependent fashion which means that green and oolong tea reduce the amount of fat absorbed in a manner similar to the prescription diet pill Xenical (orlistat).
False claim #5: “Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!”
“Losing weight at the rate of a pound or two a week is the most effective way to take it off and keep it off,” says the FTC. “At best, products promising lightning-fast weight loss are false. At worst, they can ruin your health.”
Comment: I agree with this. This is a red flag. Unless you weigh 500 pounds, you’re not going to lose 30 pounds in 30 days no matter what you do.
False claim #6: “Everybody will lose weight!”
“Your habits and health concerns are unique,” says the FTC. “There is simply no one-size-fits-all product guaranteed to work for everyone. Team up with your health care provider to design a personalized nutrition and exercise program suited to your lifestyle and metabolism.”
Comment: This is true. Even prescription diet pills do not cause weight loss in everyone who uses them.
False claim #7: “Lose weight with our miracle diet patch or cream!”
“You’ve seen the ads for diet patches or creams that claim to melt away the pounds,” the FTC notes. “Don’t believe them. There’s nothing you can wear or apply to your skin that will cause you to lose weight.”
Comment: I agree. I am not aware of any diet patches or creams that cause weight loss, however, drugs can be delivered through the skin, such as is the case with the nicotine patch, so I can imagine that, depending on how the drug works, cream and patches might be used at some point in the future to deliver weight loss drugs.
Weighing the Evidence in Diet Ads. U.S. Federal Trade Commision. November 2004. Web page viewed 2005 April 19. http://ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/health/evidence.htm
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