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February 27, 2013

LITTLE ROCK - A guarantee to lose weight without dieting sounds appealing to consumers hoping to shed a few pounds, but businesses that promise quick-fix weight loss are most likely taking away more money than they are pounds.

According to the FDA, Americans lose billions of dollars a year to health-fraud schemes. Dietary supplements touted as "magic pills" and supposed fat-dissolving products that claim to erase inches from waistlines are ineffective and could be dangerous to a consumer's health.

Accordingly, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this Consumer Alert today to urge Arkansans to use caution when considering weight-loss products or businesses that offer fast results with little effort.

"Consumers who invest in weight-loss businesses because they want to lose weight immediately may soon find out that they aren't getting what they paid for," McDaniel said. "Not only are these types of schemes a poor investment, but medical professionals warn that they could negatively impact a person's health."

The assertions made by the businesses contradict the long-held view that weight loss can and should be achieved only through diet and physical activity. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences advises that losing one-half to two pounds per week by eating better and exercising more is the best way to lose weight and keep it off.

UAMS also recommends that consumers speak with their physicians or consult a registered dietician before starting a weight-loss program.

Dietary supplements that can be found in stores or online are not FDA-approved, and could contain dangerous ingredients, or ingredients that could be toxic when taken with other drugs or foods.

The federal agency also warns that there are no FDA-approved injectable drugs to eliminate fat. Additionally, there is no credible scientific evidence to support that drugs or substances used in lipodissolve procedures are actually effective in eliminating fat.

McDaniel encouraged consumers who believe that they have been victims of a weight-loss scam to contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. Some consumers have reported signing contracts with a weight-loss business promising a money-back guarantee if they were unsatisfied. However, the consumers claim they were left with no results and no refund.

Consumers can identify weight-loss fraud in a number of ways, according to the FDA:

• Consumers should be wary of businesses that promote the "one and only" product guaranteed to work, and should be wary of web sites that use words like "guarantee" and "breakthrough."

• Keep in mind that businesses often dress up actors to appear as doctors in their advertisements.

• Consumers should be skeptical of any business that offers quick and easy weight loss without diet and exercise.

• Consider that scammers may alter before and after pictures or craft testimonials to promote false results.

For more information about weight-loss scams or other consumer-related issues, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at (800) 482-8982 or visit