January 4, 2014

Don’t jeopardize your New Year’s weight-loss resolution

Losing some of the pounds you put on during the holidays is a common New Year’s resolution for many.

Losing some of the pounds you put on during the holidays is a common New Year’s resolution for many.

The temptation is strong to look for a quick and easy method. Unfortunately, most of those advertised weight-loss claims that seem to come at consumers from every direction are scams. The only thing that will weigh less after you try those products is your wallet.

Here is our advice for those wondering whether to purchase that miracle weight-loss product: Keep your money.

The Federal Trade Commission, an independent agency of the U.S. government charged with consumer protection, says most of those pills, patches and creams are a waste of money. They may even be a threat to your health.

Last year the BBB received more than 4,600 complaints nationally about weight control services, and health and diet products. Commonly consumers said they either never received the product or the results were not as advertised or the product caused an adverse reaction.

Deceptive advertising

Recently the FTC released information about several products that were charged with making deceptive claims in their advertisements.

The marketers of Sensa had claimed that all you will need to do is “sprinkle, eat and lose weight.” Sprinkling the product on your food was supposed to help you eat less, feel less hungry and even change your metabolism. Between 2008 and 2012 its sales totaled over $364 million.

The company will now be paying $26.5 million as settlement for the FTC’s charges that it deceived consumers. The money will be sent to Sensa’s customers as refunds.

Also charged by the agency was a company called L’Occitane, which marketed creams that had been claiming weight loss for users, but lacked scientific proof that it worked. L’Occitane’s products were called Almond Beautiful Shape and Almond Shaping Delight.

HCG Diet Direct has marketed an unproven human hormone as a weight-loss treatment for a quarter century and was charged by the FTC as well.

Additionally a partial settlement was reached with an operation called LeanSpa, which was alleged to have deceptively promoted acai berry and “colon-cleanse” weight loss supplements in falsified news websites.

Claims to watch out for

These are some of the oh-so-appealing – but oh-so-deceptive – claims to watch out for in weight-loss product ads.

• Lose weight without dieting or exercising! Miraculous results do not happen without hard work.
• Eat your favorite foods and still lose weight! You must make sensible food choices in order to lose weight. Try filling up on vegetables and fruits so you can more easily turn down sweets and snacks.
• Lose weight permanently and never diet again! Permanent weight loss comes from permanent lifestyle changes. Ongoing maintenance is a must to keep pounds off.
• Just take a pill! There is no magic pill. Exercise and low-calorie, low-fat diets must accompany any weight-loss medication.
• Lose 30 pounds in 30 days! This would not only be a scam but would be unhealthy even if it were true. The most effective rate of weight loss is a pound or two a week.
• Everybody will lose weight! One size does not fit all. You are unique. Work with your doctor to design a diet and exercise program suited to you.
• This miracle cream or diet patch will melt the pounds away! No such product exists that will cause weight lose.

The claims are extravagant and wild. And they are false.

If you have tried one of these products and learned the hard way that they are scams, file a complaint with the FTC by going to ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

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