Fitness Articles

How to Get Ripped Off - Guaranteed!

Tips for Consumers

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.

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Member Comments

  • This is a good article. I learned a long time ago to"let the buyer beware." I dislike being untrusting but our society has made it necessary.
  • People are ALWAYS ready to believe in a gimmick than face the reality of hard work needed.
    Might be a good time for members to realize that fad diets are scams as well. Keto, Paleo, Low carb, no carb... If the diet leaves out a food group or nutrient, it is not a good diet. Unfortunately, Sparkpeople members fall for these diets. They don't work, but desperation encourages them to keep finding proof that they do.
  • Thanks for the tips. Even if Iím a sceptic at heart. I would want to see studies published in valid medical journals.
  • If I listened to every advertisement I would have a basement full of junk
  • Just think of this quote by PT Barnum. "There's a sucker born every minute!"
    Make sure it is not you!
  • My motto is, if it seems to good to be true it's probably is to good to be true!
  • or the ones that are basically a pyramid scheme..."This company is a multi-million dollar corporation!" If their best marketing strategy is how much money they make, I'm leery.
  • The easiest way to get ripped off is to read all the other articles SP posts about all their and their affiliates devices you need.
  • 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
  • Thanks for sharing.
  • Yes great article because they put all this stuff out there for peoples to fall for.
  • 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.
    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.
    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.

About The Author

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