|
|
The Lake News Online
  • Nutrition tip of the week: Spotting false weight loss claims

  • You may have see recent news reports about Dr. Oz being questioned by Sen. Claire McCaskill during a Senate hearing to examine the deceptive advertising and marketing practices of weight-loss products and their effects on American consumers. This is part of the Federal Trade Commission crackdown effort, Operation Failed Resolution, which began in January.
    • email print
      Comment
  • You may have see recent news reports about Dr. Oz being questioned by Sen. Claire McCaskill during a Senate hearing to examine the deceptive advertising and marketing practices of weight-loss products and their effects on American consumers. This is part of the Federal Trade Commission crackdown effort, Operation Failed Resolution, which began in January.
    With about 70 percent of U.S. adults obese or overweight and looking for a miracle diet fix, it’s not surprising that there were more victims of fraudulent weight loss claims than of any other type of fraud. Consumers spend $2.4 billion a year on weight-loss products, yet there is little evidence that any of them work.
    The dietary supplement industry has exploded in the last 20 years, going from less than 1,000 products on the market to currently more than 85,000. Part of this growth can be contributed to the 1994 Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act that was designed to give consumers more freedom in choosing dietary supplements. This act classified dietary supplements as not being drugs thus effectively limiting the Food and Drug Administration regulatory powers.
    Dietary supplements do not have to prove that they are safe or effective. New supplements to the market are required to notify the FDA 75 days before selling the product, but the FDA has no power to stop it if they feel it is dangerous. The FDA can only pull supplements from the market after danger to consumers has been shown.
    The FDA has no regulation as to claims made or ingredients in dietary supplements. Dietary supplements may list ingredients, but it is difficult or impossible to know how much of that ingredient is actually in the product. Manufacturers are constantly switching suppliers of ingredients, searching for the best price. These ingredients are often imported from other countries. Without testing and regulation, it’s impossible to know the concentrations, quality or even contamination of these substances.
    The FTC monitors fraudulent claims. Any product that makes a health claim is supposed to have scientific proof to support that claim. But, manufacturers are allowed to submit cherry-picked data, use very small studies, focus only on animal studies, or they can add a disclaimer that “results are not typical.” The FTC has ordered several supplement manufacturers to refund money to consumers who bought their products because of false claims. Among these are Sensa sprinkles, LeanSpa products, Acai Berry weight loss pills, colon cleansers and HCG Homeopathic drops
    To help consumers spot false weight loss claims, the FTC recently issued seven statements than simply cannot be true. If you spot one of these claims, think twice before throwing away your money.
    The Federal Trade Commission’s Seven “Gut Check” Claims are:
    1. Causes weight loss of 2 pounds or more a week for a month or more without dieting or exercise.
    Page 2 of 2 - Gut check: Meaningful weight loss requires taking in fewer calories than you use. That means ads promising substantial weight loss without diet or exercise are false. Ads that suggest that users can lose weight fast without any lifestyle changes are false. Watch for claims referring to a change in dress size or lost inches, as well.
    2. Causes substantial weight loss, no matter what or how much the consumer eats.
    Gut check: It’s impossible to eat unlimited amounts of food — any kind of food — and still lose weight. If an ad says the user can eat any amount of any kind of food they want and still lose weight, the claim is false.
    3. Causes permanent weight loss even after the consumer stops using the product.
    Gut check: Without long-term lifestyle changes, like making sensible food choices and increasing activity, weight loss won’t last.
    4. Blocks the absorption of fat or calories to enable consumers to lose substantial weight.
    Gut check: No over-the-counter product can block enough fat or calories to cause weight loss of lots of weight. To work, even legitimate “fat blockers” must be used with a reduced calorie diet.
    5. Safely enables consumers to lose more than 3 pounds per week for more than 4 weeks.
    Gut check: Medical experts agree: Losing more than 3 pounds a week over multiple weeks can result in gallstones and other health complications. If an ad says dieters can safely and quickly lose a dramatic amount of weight, it’s false.
    6. Causes substantial weight loss for all users.
    Gut check: People’s metabolisms and lifestyles are different. So is how they’ll react to any particular weight-loss product. Any ad that makes a universal promise of success is false.
    7. Causes substantial weight loss by wearing a product on the body or rubbing it into the skin.
    Gut check: Weight loss is an internal metabolic process. Nothing you wear or apply to the skin can cause substantial weight loss. So weight loss claims for patches, creams, lotions, wraps, body belts, earrings, and the like are false. There’s simply no way products like that can live up to what the ads say.
    The old adage “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is” definitely applies to dietary supplements.
     
    Anita Marlay, R.D., L.D., is a dietitian in the cardiac rehab department at Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach, Mo.
          • »  EVENTS CALENDAR