Nutrition Articles

12 Ways to Spot a Fad Diet

Identifying Weight Loss Scams

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6. "Finally, a weight loss formula for everyone!" A diet that claims to be perfect for all is erroneous. One-size-fits-all just doesn’t work. Your lifestyle habits and health concerns are unique. That’s why SparkPeople helps you design your own personalized nutrition and exercise programs to suit your particular lifestyle needs.

7. "Lose weight with this miracle diet patch, cream or gel!" You’ve heard it all before—"Apply and watch the fat melt away!" But truthfully, all that melts away is your hard earned money.

8. "Scientifically Proven! Doctor Endorsed!" Where is the proof and how was the research conducted? Were people studied, or rodents? Were there 3 subjects in the study or 3,000? Has the research been published in a medical journal and reviewed by peers? A doctor of what profession? Or is the "professional" as purely fictitious as your weight loss will be? Be sure to check the details.

9. "Money-back guarantee!" It may make you feel safer to give the product a try, but realize that many companies do not follow through with this promise. You’re left holding an empty promise and an empty pocketbook.

10. "100% safe!" Just another attempt, trying to get you hooked with a meaningless phrase. Think of it this way – if there were no reason to doubt, why would they need to make this claim at all? Many products have been removed from the market due to safety issues, but not until too many lives were already destroyed or lost. Does ephedra ring a bell?

11. Those convincing testimonials: We can all look 10 pounds slimmer by: standing up straight, shoulders back, and stomach in; having a good hair day; applying the right make-up; and hiring a professional photographer. Remember, just because you recognize the actor or actress doesn’t make the product any more reliable. They are now just a little richer and you a little poorer.

12. "A miraculous breakthrough!" Turn and run the other direction when extravagant claims make the product sound to good to be true.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
 

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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.

Member Comments

  • I love the comment,"Suck it up and some day you won't have to suck it in." That way it becomes more appreciated. - 8/17/2014 9:18:49 PM
  • Excellent advice! Perhaps people need to exercise their skeptical and critical thinking, too? - 2/13/2014 9:11:07 AM
  • its all determimation and willpower. After im done with my goal im going to as well sell stupid worthless products that don't work either. Everybody should do it. ... Its the American way! - 9/22/2013 11:11:12 AM
  • I love how the bottle in this ad so closely resembles the bottle in the article about Alli - 8/9/2013 7:22:57 PM
  • I agree. You earn your weight loss. Thanks NancyAnne55 - 6/9/2013 10:16:28 AM
  • I find it a bit ironic that this article be featured at the same time ads for Sensa are on nutrition tracker. While I realized Sparkpeople.com does not endorse its advertisers, seeing a product like this on my nutrition tracker makes it appear otherwise. - 2/22/2013 11:05:24 AM
  • I would like to come out with a new REVOLUTIONARY product. A little white plastic bottle with a great label that promises fantastic weight loss, health benefits, and added years to your life. It will have a huge cotton ball inside that you have to take out. And when you take the cotton ball out it will have a string attached to a message that reads: "GOTCHA...only eating healthy, limiting your calories, and getting exercise is going to work...WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE" - 2/22/2013 6:28:21 AM
  • When I read this article the tv ad for "Sensa" came to my mind. Just sprinkle sensa on your food and lose the weight. If it were only that easy! In the ad I see people sprinkling it on hot dogs and french fries....... then also there is a new ad for Jenny Craig called "my day". You do 5 days with Jenny and 2 days of your own healthy choices but yet the people on "my day" are shown eating movie popcorn and french fries. Is that healthy? They are telling people to make healthy choices but showing people they can eat whatever they want. sigh....... - 2/22/2013 3:23:40 AM
  • BAMAJAM
    Too bad that the FDA does not monitor the "miracle diet pills/powders" industry, and require products be safe for comsumption. People are often desperate to lose pounds, and will risk their health in taking these diet aids....
    WHY--- doesn't the government require testing on this?
    - 1/28/2013 2:05:44 PM
  • MOMASAURUS
    You EARN your body. Work. - 1/28/2013 12:38:27 PM
  • SSIRISH
    What is with all the "fad ads" on this story? I realize advertising pays the bills, but I would think you would be a little pickier about what shows up. Kind of discredits your whole story. - 1/28/2013 10:54:33 AM
  • Has anyone heard anything or taken skinny fiber? - 1/27/2013 2:20:12 PM
  • Has anyone heard anything or taken skinny fiber? - 1/26/2013 10:22:05 PM
  • While I do think there are some unsafe diet pills out there, I think that this article is making claims no differently than what the author says the diet pill industry does. Indeed, there actually are many healthy, natural supplements out there that not only work, but they are totally safe, and indeed beneficial. I have personally studied and read peer reviewed journal articles about many of these supplements. There are many natural supplements that do aid in appetite suppression, lower cholesterol, encourage thermogenesis (increased metabolism to burn calories), balance sugar levels, and a host of other positive health benefits. There are huge numbers of these articles that exist, proving that some of these supplements do indeed allow people to lose weight without a ton of exercising or changing of a person's diet. In my experience, however, one has to do their own research, and discover what's right for them. For many of the articles I've read, while exercise and diet doesn't have to change while taking the supplements, people who did lost more weight, and obviously are more healthy. Why wouldn't we all want to take supplements that not only have proven health benefits aside from weightloss, but would allow you to drop a few pounds as well? I think people need to research and educate themselves before they start slamming natural products that actually have science and rigor behind them. - 1/26/2013 5:26:14 PM
  • Weight loss is earned, not purchased. - 1/26/2013 1:42:25 PM