By Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD
You may have heard that a Senate committee held a hearing this week about false advertising of weight-loss products. Dr. Mehmet Oz was the star witness.
When the senators questioned why Dr. Oz would praise products on his TV show that aren’t proven by research, he said they can help jump-start a diet and give people hope.
But this goes against research showing that when people have unrealistic weight loss expectations, they tend to drop out of the game earlier or are more likely to experience weight cycling. Yes, a new product may get them excited initially, but eventually the truth comes out and people are usually worse off – both in their weight and in their wallets.
Although Dr. Oz was in the spotlight, you don’t have to look far to find products that make false weight loss claims. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says it is serious about limiting these claims. According to the agency’s web site, here are seven claims that signal a product is a weight-loss scam:
1. Lose more than 1-2 pounds per week without diet or exercise.
2. Lose weight regardless of how much you eat.
3. Permanent weight loss without ever needing to diet again!
4. Blocks the absorption of fat or calories, resulting in large weight loss.
5. A safe way to lose large amounts of weight: 3 pounds a week for more than 4 weeks.
6. Is one-size-fits all because it works for everyone!
7. Lose weight by wearing a product or rubbing it into your skin.
And remember – even weight loss drugs approved by the FDA, with mounds of research behind them, stress the importance of diet and exercise and gradual weight loss.
So the next time you see a miracle product – no matter where it is — ask yourself if it’s too good to be true. If the answer is yes, save your money.