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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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.