Weight Loss Promises: Health Information for Older People

I’ve always had trouble keeping my weight down. I’ve heard about a pill that helps you lose weight — and you don’t have to stop eating the foods you love or start exercising all the time. Could this really work?

Getting to a healthy weight now can lower your risk for all kinds of diseases later. It’s never too late to start. But pills, patches, and creams promising quick, easy, and lasting weight loss aren’t worth the money or the risk. As promising as claims may sound, doctors, dieticians, and other experts agree that the best way to lose weight — and keep it off — is to eat fewer calories and increase your activity so you burn more energy. There’s nothing you can wear or apply to your skin that will cause you to lose weight. While there is a weight loss pill approved by the FDA for prescription and over-the-counter use by people who are overweight, it’s designed to be used along with exercise and a reduced-calorie, low-fat diet.

When you see a weight loss product, read the claims. Be skeptical when you see:

”Lose weight without diet or exercise!”

”Lose weight permanently!”

”Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!”

”Everybody will lose weight!”

The reality is that the quicker you lose the weight, the more likely you’ll gain it back. Experts recommend a goal of losing about a pound or two a week. Even if a product promising lightning-fast weight loss causes you to lose weight, it also could be hurting your health.

The federal government has many resources on safe and effective ways people can lose weight, including those listed on the left.

To check if you’re at a healthy weight, calculate your body mass index (BMI) — a measure of weight adjusted for your height — at the CDC website.

Who Cares About Weight Loss Promises?

Weight Loss Claims

FTC
1-800-382-4357
(TTY: 1-866-653-4261)

Health and Nutrition

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Weight-control Information Network
1-877-946-4627

CDC, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity
1-800-311-3435

USDA, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
1-888-779-7264

American Dietetic Association
1-800-877-1600