Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

Fitness Articles  ›  Pitfalls and Plateaus

How to Get Ripped Off - Guaranteed!

Tips for Consumers

-- By Christopher Stormann, Ph.D.
Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.
Bogus exercise equipment and nutrition scams have been assaulting us for about as long as anyone can remember. According to author Dr. James Harvey Young, the scams date back as early as 1630. That was the year Nicholas Knopp of Massachusetts Bay was fined five pounds for vending, as a cure for scurvy, nothing more than high-priced water.

Flash forward to 2007 and the bogus claims of many exercise and nutrition products continue to be just as bold. Indeed, according to FTC chairman Timothy J. Muris, "For years, marketers of diet and exercise products have been preying on overweight, out-of-shape consumers by hawking false hope in a pill, false hope in a bottle, and, now, in a belt."

Muris goes on to state, "Unfortunately, there are no magic pills, potions, or pulsators for losing weight and getting into shape. The only winning combination is changing your diet and exercise." This announcement came on the heels of a bold move by the FTC when they pulled infomercials for three separate electronic abdominal workout belts.

Below are five tips from Stephen Barrett's 10 Ways To Avoid Being Quacked to help you protect yourself from exercise and nutrition foolery:
  1. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. You've heard it before but it's the best medicine for consumers prone to bouts of naivety.
  2. Seeing isn’t always believing. Promoters of quackery go to great lengths to make sure the demonstrations (and there can be lots of them) look convincing and not outlandish.
  3. Beware of pseudo-scientific jargon and claims that a supplement or herb will remedy a serious disease or act as a cure-all. Speak with your physician about current medications and changing your diet before taking supplements. The Food and Drug Administration does not require makers of dietary supplements to demonstrate their products are safe or effective.
  4. Look out for conspiracy theories and secret cures. Statements that the government or pharmaceutical industries are withholding information or products that could help millions of people just doesn't make sense. If the product in question is legit, it would go against their capitalistic best interests to suppress it.
  5. Quackery thrives on desperation and vanity. Sometimes subtle, sometimes overt, marketers know people want to be admired and sexy. Doctors and the scientific community go to great lengths to insure your safety before recommending medicines. Listen to their advice and do some research before taking an action contrary to accepted wisdom and sound medical practice.
Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
Page 1 of 1   Return to main fitness page »
Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

Related Content


Stay in Touch With SparkPeople

Subscribe to our Newsletters

About The Author

Chris Stormann Chris Stormann
Chris has a doctorate in social and behavioral sciences.

Member Comments

  • that made a lot of sense to me I would think a detox diet of only fruits and vegies with no protein would make a person sick over 21 days - 3/31/2014 6:44:25 PM
  • Thanks for sharing. - 9/14/2013 7:08:42 AM
  • Yes great article because they put all this stuff out there for peoples to fall for. - 9/6/2013 8:41:02 PM
  • Love the article. It makes me sick to see all these commercials for weightloss miracles. And it is even sadder that people fall for it, because they promise and easy and fast fix. - 3/25/2012 8:07:27 AM
  • CIRANDELLA
    Bravo!! I hate to see people fall for the many, many weight-loss scams perpetrated on us by countless hucksters - especially on the 'net. Kudos for mentioning Dr. Barrett here; he's got a keen eye for quackery of every stripe and has been a reliable guide for me in those (shark-infested) waters. - 8/24/2011 6:56:59 PM
  • CINNAMONJOY
    Dr Barrett is fantastic. Google Quackwatch and read his site for lots more info about the scams that are rife in our world. It pays to be a skeptic. - 6/17/2011 8:44:59 PM
  • LINDABRENT
    I agree with most of what was written, and it makes a lot of sense that when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But I have to say that there is something to the fact that pharmaceutical companies don't/won't invest in anything they can't patent, or make money from. So it is possible that there are natual cures, that these companies don't want you to know about, because they can't profit from it.
    Case in point... why is it only in the last couple of years that doctors finally agree that Vitamin D helps to fight cancer and many other illnesses... maybe because it's free? - 4/12/2011 9:12:33 AM
  • I'm ashamed to say I tried the acai berry & colon detox. They didn't work. Luckily, I didn't have a bad reaction to the pills, also the company I dealt with were very hel[pful when I wanted to cancel the deliveries & charges on my credit card. I was lucky, I won't do something so stupid again. Eat in a healthful way & try to move your body as much as possible. There's mo easy way to lose weight, except hard work & changing your eating habits. Thanks for all the articles---. adooresw - 4/8/2011 9:19:42 AM
  • WOODWINDS
    Another scam: Women's Health Digest diet study.
    I've done some mystery shopping, so I thought this was similar - try the products, write a daily comment about it, etc. They never paid, never acknowledged receipt of my materials, didn't pay for the 'supplements' and ignored a contact from BBB. I'm poorer, and I hope we can all be wiser! Don't be tempted. It's another of those acai credit card scams. I had to get the credit card company to change the number to stop the charges! - 3/18/2011 10:02:16 AM
  • Very good article--every one should read it!!! - 1/17/2011 7:50:52 PM
  • it always makes me feel weird when I see an ad that talks about So and So lost 25 lbs in 2 weeks. All I can think of is "how can that be healthy? how can they show that on TV where kids can see it?:" Lucky for me my kids laughed at the ad and asked me "does anyone really believe that would work?" - 1/17/2011 6:45:33 PM
  • JAGUAR-SHARK
    I remember, years ago, there was a belt that sent an electrical current to your abs, causing the muscles to constrict, release, and thusly, become toned...supposedl
    y. I also remember, shortly after these commercials started, seeing something on some video show (America's Funniest? Though this wasn't funny at all), where one of the belts shorted out and shocked the user.

    I also LOVE the new Slim Fast tagline: "Who has time to slim slowly?" That ought to be a HUGE clue that its unsustainable.

    When I tell people I'm losing weight, and how I'm doing it, they seem a little disappointed when I tell them its nothing but old fashioned diet and exercise. - 1/17/2011 3:13:30 PM
  • P T Barnum said it all. "There's a sucker born every minute".
    It's as if we think that there is some secret our doctor doesn't know. Ha! I look back at my younger years and think of the stupid things I suckered for. Most were not harmful (thank goodness), just harmful to my bank account. Books written by quacks are plentiful: can't sue them--free speech, you know. I remember some pills years ago that had tapeworm eggs in them. Yikes. - 10/1/2010 6:58:33 PM
  • As Dr. Dean Edell often says, if there was a scientific breakthrough for weight loss, every doctor would be touting it. They of all people, want people to be at a healthy weight. - 10/1/2010 11:08:18 AM
  • Everyone loves the lure of a "quickie" result, and many people are vulnerable to buying so-called "solutions" that market themselves as providing "quick results".

    FACT: In the case of weight loss, it simply isn't actually feasible: the weight didn't go on "overnight", neither will it come off "overnight".

    (Note: for those so-called "solutions" that are actually "super-low-calori
    e diets", one should NEVER throw one's body into "starvation" mode - that's a guaranteed recipe for stalling out and weight REGAIN.)

    Also, the ONLY REAL WAY to actually KEEP the weight off after losing it is adopting a lifestyle change of eating less/more wisely and exercising more, as well as acknowledging that as one grows older, maintenance also means dropping one's average caloric intake by a (small!) amount each year.

    THAT IS REALITY. It's not "harsh", it's just fact. - 10/1/2010 5:57:11 AM
Popular Calories Burned Searches: Badminton  |  Horseback riding  |  Skipping