Seven patently bogus weight-loss claims

  • By Barbara Quinn The Monterey County Herald
  • Monday, June 23, 2014 1:46pm
  • Life

Some things just don’t sound quite right. “Kids make good snacks,” for example. Some may be interpreted wrong, such as “Weight loss study looks for larger test group.”

Other statements can be downright deceptive, especially when it comes to the selling of products marketed for weight loss.

Let’s face it. We are a culture desperate to lose weight. And that makes the sale of products for this end extremely profitable, even if the claims for their effectiveness are bogus. To the rescue comes the Federal Trade Commission, whose job is to protect us from companies that try to sell their products with false or misleading advertising. Information from this agency can help us decide between “Here’s my credit card!” and “You’ve got to be kidding.”

Check out the following list of claims for over-the-counter weight loss products that the FTC says simply cannot be true:

“Lose 10 pounds every week! Guaranteed.” Any ad that promises quick and continuous weight loss — 2 or more pounds a week for a month or more without serious dieting or exercise — is false, says the FTC.

“Lose weight without depriving yourself!” If only. But not true, say experts. It is impossible to eat unlimited amounts of any food and still lose weight.

“Use this product for 6 months and get the weight off for good!” Uh … no. Keeping weight off for good requires keeping on track with diet and exercise goals … for good.

“Just take this pill!” No over-the-counter product can block enough fat or calories to lose a large amount of weight, says registered dietitian nutritionist Eleese Cunningham in a recent article on this topic in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Even legitimate weight loss drugs are only useful when accompanied by a low-calorie diet and exercise.

“Safely lose 30 pounds in 30 days!” Quick weight loss — more than 3 pounds a week over multiple weeks — can be risky without medical supervision. Products that promise lightning-fast weight loss are a scam at best, says the FTC. At worst, they can ruin your health.

“Works for everybody!” Really? Like shoes, no one diet fits everyone. Current research confirms that diets need to be individualized to our unique health needs and metabolism.

“Simply rub on this miracle diet cream and watch the pounds melt away!” You might watch the pounds melt away from your wallet but not from your body, says the FTC. Nothing we wear or apply to our skin can make us lose weight.

Yep, after all the years of research and inquiry, we now know what we knew before. There are few shortcuts to trimming off pounds. Serious weight loss requires serious pushing back from the table and increases in physical activity. That sounds about right.

Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Email her at

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