The Federal Trade Commission in the US is a government agency responsible for monitoring and alerting others to "advertising for deception". Not surprisingly, it stays very busy, with around 14 per cent of adults falling for fraudulent weight-loss products.
In NZ the Commerce Commission has a similar role.
Unfortunately, in the weight-loss world, bogus claims are way too common. There is such an abundance of misleading and deceptive weight-loss advertising promoted on all media outlets that prey on those looking for an easy 'out' …an easy solution that it is especially difficult for the average consumer to make objective judgments about what a weight-loss product will actually do for them. And that's where the problem begins.
These types of inflated and bloated claims only hold weight in the fantasy world. The reality is, there is no magic bullet when it comes to losing excess weight and fat, and keeping it off. And my bet is you already know that.
Like anything else in life that is worth going after, permanent weight loss takes desire, sacrifice, focus and serious dedication.
However, bogus ads for non-prescription diet pills, dietary supplements, creams, wraps, skin patches or other types of products that are worn or rubbed on the skin will try to convince you otherwise. Be aware that these types of ads promoting so-called miracle weight loss are nothing but red flags that turn into empty promises.
Here are some blatant weight-loss red flags you need to be aware of so you can stay ahead of those offering you nothing in value while trying to cash in on your wallet.
If you bump into any of these claims, run the other way without thinking twice.
False red weight-loss flags:
"You will lose two or more pounds a month without any type of dieting or exercise." This is false advertising. Permanent weight loss requires you to burn more calories than you consume daily.
Ads that promote weight loss, particularly those that say you will lose it fast without changing lifestyles are bogus.
Unfortunately, people with good intentions are led down what could be a dangerous road when it comes to how it affects their health in the long run.
"Our product works for everyone and will enable those who purchase to experience major weight-loss regardless of the amount of food eaten/consumed." Let's get real. You don't really believe that, do you?
You might want to fantasise that it's that easy, but you know in your gut it's not. There are products that can help to curb your appetite or stem your food cravings, but nothing that can eliminate any weight gain from calories consumed.
Unless you make positive changes to your lifestyle, how you eat, and how much exercise you get, expecting to maintain any weight-loss changes you may have accomplished is futile at best. Truth is, without changes to your lifestyle you will go back to your damaging habits and all the weight you've lost will end up back on your body sooner rather than later.
Words and phrases to be wary of:
- "Miracle" (miracles come from inside not outside of you). I would be wary of any ad using the word miracle.
- "This product blocks fat before your body absorbs it, causing the pounds to melt away." There is no fat blocker that can fulfil that claim, except maybe in fantasy land.
- "It has virtually eliminated the need to diet." This implies that you never have to pay attention to what you eat again. Another false advertisement.
- "Lose 30 pounds in 30 days eating your favourite foods." Well, maybe if your favourite foods are carrot and celery sticks. Let's get real. Losing 30 pounds in 30 days is a stretch even on a strict caloric diet.
- "Do nothing but take our pill and you will lose inches quickly." Toning the body requires exercise. You may lose weight by lowering your caloric intake but if it's muscle you are losing, it is not a good thing. Exercise is what changes and tones the shape of your body. No pill is empowered to do that.
- "Eat what you want, how much you want and when you want and still lose weight." Is anyone really that gullible? Unfortunately, yes. When people are looking for shortcuts and easy outs, they allow their common sense and logic to take a vacation.
- "Eat the foods you love and still lose weight." You cannot continue eating your favourite foods and expect weight loss without monitoring your calories and nutrients. It is simple science.
- "Tired of yoyo dieting without success? This miracle product allows you to lose weight quickly and keep it off permanently." Mmmm. Yoyo dieting is not good but no miracle product solves the issue.
Fat burning and permanent weight loss involve not only what you eat, but when you eat it and how often you eat it. It's about keeping your metabolism humming correctly with proper challenging exercise so that it promotes weight loss even when you are sleeping.
It has nothing to do with creams, potions, lotions, pills, patches, blockers or any other type of fantasy "miracle" claim.
There are foods that can help increase your metabolism and exercises that boost it as well. With the internet so close at hand, it's not hard to find helpful information in both these areas.
This is what your attention and your wallet need to be on, not fancy, misleading, falsifying claims.
• Carolyn Hansen is the co-owner of Anytime Fitness.