Nutrition Articles

12 Ways to Spot a Fad Diet

Identifying Weight Loss Scams

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The next time you watch an infomercial, read an advertisement, or spot a new supplement reporting miraculous weight loss results, we wouldn’t blame you for cocking a wary eyebrow. When evaluating claims for weight loss products, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends a healthy portion of skepticism; most don’t come close to fulfilling their claims. And in the rare cases where a product might result in some temporary weight loss, it is almost never a permanent solution and is usually unsafe.

Before you spend money on products that promise fast and easy results, weigh the claims carefully. You might even consider contacting the FTC directly for more information or if you have concerns.

These 12 tips will help you critique and evaluate weight loss claims and spot a scam before it’s too late:

1. "It’s so easy to lose weight without dieting or exercising!" Face it—permanent weight loss takes work, effort and time. Pass on any products that promise miraculous results without the effort. Buy one and the only things you’ll lose are money and confidence.

2. "Eat whatever you want and still lose weight!" Losing weight requires sensible food choices, not overloading on high-fat, high calorie foods.

3. "Lose weight forever…you’ll never need to diet again!" For weight loss to be permanent, it requires lifestyle changes. On-going maintenance is always a must.

4. "Block the digestion and absorption of fat, carbs, or calories!" Remind yourself that a little pill to curb cravings and suppress appetite just doesn't exist. There is no magic potion that will allow you to completely block the digestion and absorption of fat, carbs, or calories either. The majority of these over-the-counter products and "supplements" are scams with no supporting scientific research and thus a waste of your hard-earned money.

Note: SparkPeople does not endorse or recommend the use of any diet pills, but since this article was published, one over-the-counter weight-loss medication has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. When taken with low-fat meals, Alli can prevent up to one quarter of the fat you eat from being absorbed. Alli is not without risks, so talk to your doctor and do your homework first.

5. "Rapid weight loss: Lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks!" Looking to lose weight rapidly for your high school reunion or wedding? Products that safely produce lightning-fast weight loss just don’t exist. A weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week is the safest and most effective way to take off weight and keep it off.
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

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