Looking to shed some unwanted pounds? Some people do it by hitting the gym and cutting calories. Others try to lose weight by participating in a weight loss program or buying the diet products they see in ads.
If you’re in that second group, Your BBB urges you to be aware of deceptive advertising claims that sound too good to be true–and probably are.
Your BBB routinely contacts companies with ads that could be potentially misleading. These include unsubstantiated claims about consumers’ health, fitness and diet. Locally, BBB conducted advertising reviews for companies touting HCG diets as “proven successful” or that “most patients can lose 15 to 40 pounds per month on the treatment.” When asked to provide substantiation for these claims, those companies failed to provide it.
When looking for a diet plan or routine to kick off better health in 2015, BBB offers the following advice so you don’t fall victim to false or misleading weight loss claims:
- Seek advice. Before buying any product which makes weight loss claims or committing to any weight loss program, consult your physician and/or a qualified nutritionist or registered dietitian. Significant weight loss should not be undertaken without competent medical supervision.
- Research. Check out the company with your Better Business Bureau and contact your local or state health department, an extension agent with the United States Department of Agriculture, or your nearest Food and Drug Administration office to ask questions about a specific weight loss product.
- Be skeptical. Be skeptical of self-proclaimed health advisors selling their products by using high-pressure sales tactics and one-time-only offer deals. Read all of the fine print.
- Watch out for tricky ads. Be wary of claims that promise immediate, effortless and/or guaranteed weight loss. Also, watch for buzzwords like “breakthrough,” “secret,” “exclusive,” or “miraculous” in advertisements. These are not scientific words and often appear in misleading promotions for fraudulent products.
- Seek proof. Be cautious of vaguely worded testimonials that cannot be verified. Testimonials should never serve as a substitute for scientific proof of a program or product’s efficiency.
- Plan ahead. Keep in mind that any diet pill or weight loss product is at best, only a temporary or partial measure; long term weight loss requires a permanent change in lifestyle. In addition, every person’s metabolism and lifestyle are different, so no product should make universal promises of success or claim specific results for all users.
For more helpful tips from your Better Business Bureau, visit bbb.org. The Federal Trade Commission also offers advice on weighing the claims in diet ads and provides a reference guide for media on spotting false weight loss claims.