I’m looking out my window right now at the sun and blue skies, and my weather app shows the temperatures going up. So, naturally, my thoughts turn to … weight loss scams.
I’ve said before that charity scammers follow the news to figure out what bogus charity pitches to send your way. Well, with bogus weight-loss products, the scammers follow the calendar. As the bathing suits come out, so do the magic weight-loss claims.
Whether it’s for a pill or a drink, a patch or a cream, there’s no shortage of ads, calls, and text messages promising quick and easy weight loss without diet or exercise. But weight-loss claims that ignore changes to diet and exercise just aren’t true, and some of these products could even hurt you.
At the Federal Trade Commission, we’ve seen a number of bogus weight-loss claims. Here are some frequent ones to watch out for:
• “Lose weight without diet or exercise.” Getting to a healthy weight takes work. Take a pass on any product that promises miraculous results without the effort.
• “Lose weight no matter how much you eat of your favorite foods.” Beware of any product that claims you can eat all the high-calorie food you want and still lose weight. Losing weight requires sensible food choices.
• “Lose weight permanently. Never diet again.” Even if you’re successful in taking weight off, permanent weight loss requires permanent lifestyle changes. Don’t trust any product that promises once-and-for-all results without ongoing maintenance.
• “Just take a pill.” Doctors, dietitians and other experts agree there’s simply no magic way to lose weight without changes to diet or exercise. Even pills approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to block the absorption of fat or help you eat less and feel full are to be taken with a low-calorie, low-fat diet and regular exercise.
• “Everybody will lose weight.” Your habits and health concerns are unique. There is no one-size-fits-all product guaranteed to work for everyone. Team up with your health-care provider to design a nutrition and exercise program suited to your lifestyle and metabolism.
“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. Don’t believe them. There’s nothing you can wear or apply to your skin that will cause you to lose weight.
Also be careful of testimonials from consumers or endorsements from reporters on the web. In the Cleveland office of the FTC, we’ve sued weight-loss operations that advertised consumer “testimonials” that were from paid employees and that put out fake news releases touting a miracle food, complete with a fake reporter’s picture.
So enjoy Edgewater Beach, but be careful with weight-loss claims. Otherwise, all you’ll lose this summer is money.
If you or someone you know gets scammed, report it to the FTC. Call 877-382-4357 or visit ftc.gov/complaint.
Jon Miller Steiger is the East Central region director of the Federal Trade Commission in Cleveland. The views expressed in this column are his and not the official positions of the FTC or any of its commissioners.