Weighing the Claims in Diet Ads

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Whether it’s a pill, patch, or cream, there’s no shortage of ads promising quick and easy weight loss without diet or exercise. But the claims just aren’t true, and some of these products could even hurt your health. The best way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories and get more exercise. Don’t be hooked by promises, testimonials, or supposed endorsements from reporters; all you’ll lose is money.

Will I Really Lose Weight?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could lose weight simply by taking a pill, wearing a patch, or rubbing in a cream? Unfortunately, claims that you can lose weight without changing your habits just aren’t true.

Doctors, dieticians, and other experts agree that the best way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories and be more active. That's true even for people taking FDA-approved pills to help them lose weight. For most people, a reasonable goal is to lose about a pound a week, which means:

  • cutting about 500 calories a day from your diet
  • eating a variety of nutritious foods
  • exercising regularly

For more on healthy eating, visit Nutrition.gov, ChooseMyPlate.gov, or the Weight-control Information Network.

The Truth Behind Weight Loss Ads

Claims to watch out for include:

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. The only thing you’ll lose is money.

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

Beware of any product that claims that you can eat all the high-calorie food you want and still lose weight. Losing weight requires sensible food choices. Filling up on healthy vegetables and fruits can make it easier to say no to fattening sweets and snacks.

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, dieticians, and other experts agree that there’s simply no magic way to lose weight without diet or exercise. Even pills approved by FDA 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.

Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!

Losing weight at the rate of a pound or two a week is the most effective way to take it off and keep it off. At best, products promising lightning-fast weight loss are a scam. At worst, they can ruin your health.

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.

Acai Berry Supplements in the “News”

More and more, scam artists are exploiting people’s trust in well-known news organizations by setting up fake news sites with the logos of legitimate news organizations to peddle their wares. In particular, sites claiming to be objective news sources may describe a so-called "investigation" of the effectiveness of acai berry dietary supplements for weight loss. These sites are a marketing ploy created to sell acai berry supplements.

Tainted Weight Loss Products

In the last few years, FDA has discovered hundreds of dietary supplements containing drugs or other chemicals, often in products for weight loss and bodybuilding. These extras generally aren't listed on the label — and might even be sold with false and misleading claims like “100% natural” and “safe.” They could cause serious side effects or interact in dangerous ways with medicines or other supplements you're taking.

The Skinny on Electronic Muscle Stimulators

You might have seen ads for electronic muscle stimulators claiming they will tone, firm, and strengthen abdominal muscles, help you lose weight, or get rock hard abs. But according to FDA, while these devices may temporarily strengthen, tone, or firm a muscle, no electronic muscle stimulator device alone will give you “six-pack” abs.

Where to Complain

Report fraudulent weight loss product claims to the FTC. You also can contact your state Attorney General.