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Top Red Flags For Bogus Weight Loss Claims

Posted by Joan Salge Blake  March 27, 2012 12:38 PM

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Photo Source: FTC





Spring has sprung and so has the advertising for fad diets and quick weight loss gimmicks. Unfortunately, a faddist approach to shedding weight can be rather costly.

Can you guess, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), how much Americans spend on weight loss programs, products, pills, and portions annually to lose weight:

a)    $20 million
b)    $30 million
c)    $ 100 million
d)    $10 billion
e)    Over $30 billion


The painful answer is over $30 billion.  With over 65 percent of Americans overweight, it appears that the only thing many of us are losing is our money.  To avoid financially contributing to this unbelievably lucrative but generally ineffective industry, the FTC urges that you view fad diets and quick weight loss regimens with a healthy portion of skepticism.

Click on this website and see if you can identify at least three Red Flags that should alert you that the weight loss that is being promised is, well, too good to be true:



To help your identify the facts from fiction, here are the FTC’s top Red Flag claims that are commonly used in the advertising of fraudulent weight loss products:

“Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!” 

If the advertisement guarantees speedy results, it’s guaranteed to be a fad diet that is likely to be untrue, unhealthy, and not safe. Losing weight at the rate of a pound or less weekly is the safest and most realistic rate that you could expect.

"Lose weight by limiting carbs!"

Many fad diets claim that you can eat as much protein and fat as you want as long as you strictly limit carbohydrates-rich foods, such as grains, fruits, and veggies.  This type of very restricted diet is not only unhealthy, as you will be missing important nutrients from these foods groups, but you will likely also be piling your plate with foods that are high in heart unhealthy, saturated fat.  Whole grains, fruits, and veggies should be on a waist-friendly plate.

"Lose weight without diet or exercise!"

Nothing in life is free.  Pass on any product that promises miraculous results with little effort on your part.

“Lose weight no matter how much you eat of your favorite foods!” 

When was the last time you were ever able to eat unlimited amounts of high calorie foods and lose weight? When it comes to lose weight, you can't have your cake and eat it too.

“Lose weight permanently! Never diet again!”

Weight loss is never permanent if you regress back to your unhealthy eating habits and couch potato lifestyle. If there isn’t a discussion of long term lifestyle changes, you are being duped.

 “Lose weight with our miracle diet patch or cream!” 

There isn’t a patch or cream on this earth that you can apply topically that will melt fat away on or in your body.

Rather than throw your hard earned money away, meet with a registered dietitian (RD)  in your area for individualized, science-based weight loss advice to help you achieve your weight loss goals.  Depending on your medical history, the costs could be covered by your insurance company.  (Check with your insurance policy to see if this service is covered.)

For many folks, you may be a co-pay away from getting the best weight loss guidance and coaching to finally beat the battle of the bulge at the fraction of the costs of many fad diets.  Visit the National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ website to find an RD in your area.

Follow Joan on Twitter@joansalgeblake
Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.
This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical associate professor and registered dietitian at Boston University in the Nutrition Program. Joan is the author of Nutrition &You, 2nd Edition, More »

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