CONSUMER ALERT: AVOID QUICK-FIX DIET SCHEMES

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June 18, 2014

LITTLE ROCK – Consumers looking for ways to lose a few pounds may turn to dietary supplements, so-called weight-loss creams or other unconventional means. Though advertisements may tout the benefits of these weight-loss products, chances are that most consumers will lose a little weight from their wallets, but nowhere else.

Americans spend close to $2.5 billion per year on diet products, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Also, according to a 2011 FTC survey, more Americans are victims of weight-loss product fraud than any other specific type of fraud.

Recently, the U.S. Senate held a hearing about the pervasiveness of deceptive weight-loss advertisements. Because of the recent attention given to the topic, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert today to remind Arkansas consumers about the dangers of quick-fix weight loss schemes.

“Medical experts tell us the only surefire way to lose weight is through a combination of proper diet and exercise over time,” McDaniel said. “Products that promise rapid weight loss with little effort are almost always ineffective, and some could end up causing long-term damage to a person’s health.”

According to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is by losing one-half to two pounds per week by eating better and exercising more. UAMS recommends that consumers speak to their physicians or registered dietician before starting any diet program.

Physicians also warn that dietary supplements that can be found in stores or online and are not approved by the FDA could contain dangerous ingredients or ingredients that could be toxic when taken with other drugs or food. Further, there are no FDA-approved injectable drugs to eliminate fat and no credible scientific evidence that substances used in lipodissolve procedures are effective in eliminating fat.

McDaniel joined the FTC in letting consumers know what to watch out for when they hear ads or product endorsements:

  • Avoid pitches about losing weight without diet or exercise. There are no products that provide miraculous results with no effort.
  • Beware of claims of permanent weight loss. Most products do not provide real results without ongoing maintenance. Permanent weight loss requires permanent lifestyle changes.
  • There’s no magic pill. There’s not a weight-loss pill – even among those approved by the FDA – that works without a corresponding low-calorie, low-fat diet and regular exercise.
  • Products that promise lightning-fast results never deliver, and they could cause health damage.
  • Patches or creams don’t melt away pounds.
  • Be wary of businesses that promote “one and only” products or use words like “guarantee” or breakthrough.

In addition to those tips, McDaniel said consumers should be aware that businesses often hire actors to appear to be doctors in their advertisements, and deceptive advertisers may alter “before” and “after” photos in ads or fabricate testimonials that promote false results.

For more information about weight-loss scams and other consumer issues, visit the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division website, www.GotYourBackArkansas.org, or call the Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 482-8982.

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