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The Truth Behind Weight Loss Ads

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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, and some of these products could even hurt your health. So don’t be hooked by ads that woo you with wild promises – or by glowing product reviews and “news articles” that are often fake. All you’ll lose is money. Doctors, dieticians, and other experts agree: the best way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more.

If you’re looking to lose weight, watch this video and read the rest of the article. This information will help you identify false claims in weight loss ads and false online stories about weight loss products.

 

False promises in ads

Dishonest advertisers will say just about anything to get you to buy their weight loss products.
Here are some of the (false) promises from weight loss ads:

  • Lose weight without dieting or exercising. (You won’t.)
  • You don’t have to watch what you eat to lose weight. (You do.)
  • If you use this product, you’ll lose weight permanently. (Wrong.)
  • To lose weight, all you have to do is take this pill. (Not true.)
  • You can lose 30 pounds in 30 days. (Nope.)
  • This product works for everyone. (It doesn’t.)
  • Lose weight with this patch or cream. (You can’t.)

Here’s the truth:

  • Any promise of miraculous weight loss is simply untrue.
  • There’s no magic way to lose weight without a sensible diet and regular exercise.
  • No product will let you eat all the food you want and still lose weight.
  • Permanent weight loss requires permanent lifestyle changes, so don’t trust any product that promises once-and-for-all results.
  • FDA-approved fat-absorption blockers or appetite suppressants won’t result in weight loss on their own; those products are to be taken with a low-calorie, low-fat diet and regular exercise.
  • Products promising lightning-fast weight loss are always a scam. Worse, they can ruin your health.
  • Even if a product could help some people lose weight in some situations, there’s no one-size-fits-all product guaranteed to work for everyone. Everyone’s habits and health concerns are unique.
  • Nothing you can wear or apply to your skin will cause you to lose weight. Period.

False stories online

Dishonest advertisers place false stories online through fake news websites, blogs, banner ads, and social media to sell bogus weight loss products. This is what they do:

  • Post false “news” stories.  They create so-called “news” reports online about how an ingredient (like garcinia cambogia) found in a diet pill is supposedly effective for weight loss.
  • Use logos of legitimate news outlets. They place the stolen logos of real news organizations, or they use names and web addresses that look like those of well-known news outlets and websites.
  • Feature phony investigations. They say these false stories are "investigations" into the effectiveness of a product, and even add public photos of known reporters to make you think the report is real.
  • Pay for positive online reviews. Sometimes they write glowing online reviews themselves or pay others to do so.  Sometimes they just cut and paste positive comments from other fake sites.
  • Use stock or altered photos. Very often they use images showing a dramatic weight loss, but these images are just stock or altered photographs.

For more information, visit FTC.gov/WeightLoss.

Other things to consider:

“Free” trial offers are often not free at all. Many people who have signed up for “free” trials have wound up paying a lot of money and have been billed for recurring shipments they didn’t want. For more on phony free trials, read the FTC’s article “Free" Trial Offers?

The FDA has found tainted weight loss products. In recent years, FDA has discovered hundreds of dietary supplements containing potentially harmful drugs or other chemicals not listed on the product label. Many of these products are for weight loss and bodybuilding.

Using an electronic muscle stimulator alone won’t work. 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, they haven’t been shown to help you lose weight … or get those “six-pack” abs. For more on electronic muscle stimulator, read FDA’s information on these products.

To learn about healthy eating, visit Nutrition.gov, ChooseMyPlate.gov, or the Weight-control Information Network.

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