Quick Weight Loss or Quackery? (cont.)

While it is not known how much of that accounts for sales of unproven or fraudulent merchandise, an FTC study of weight-loss ads from different media shows that nearly 40% of ads make at least one false claim, and an additional 15% make at least one claim that is very likely false, or lacks proof.

To add to the number soup: results from a national health survey conducted between 1999 and 2000 indicate that more than six out of every 10 Americans are overweight or obese, a figure that has increased dramatically in recent years.

Another recent survey that looked at the attitudes of Americans adults toward their own weight found that despite the fact that two-thirds of men were considered overweight, only about half (51%) said they wanted to lose weight versus 68% of women who said they wanted to lose weight.

Put it all together, and there are arguably more people wanting to use weight-loss products, and according to the government's trend report, the "marketplace has responded with a proliferating array of products and services, many promising miraculous, quick-fix remedies."

There are, indeed, numerous therapies, including weight-loss programs and dietary supplements. Then there are the popular treadmills, bun and ab rollers, the body bow, and bun and thigh max.

For this piece, however, WebMD looked only into passive exercise devices such as electrical muscle stimulators and toning tables, cellulite reduction therapies, and gels, creams, eyeglasses, earrings and similar doodads marketed for weight loss, and muscle-building.

Granted, not all remedies may be the same, but health professionals say far too many of them can't be trusted.

Passive Weight Loss

To Elizabeth's credit, she tries to eat right, jog, do Pilates, and perform squats to supplement her endermologie sessions. In fact, good nutrition and regular physical activity are recommended with the treatment.

However, many weight-loss, cellulite-busting, and muscle-building products promise results without having to do too much.

"It's the idea that an individual can get to the body size they want without any increase in physical activity, or without any change in eating," says Jennifer Anderson, PhD, RD, professor and extension specialist at Colorado State University's department of food science and human nutrition.

She simply laughs at appetite-suppressing eyeglasses, weight-loss patches and chewing gum, toning gels, fat-melting creams, and evening solutions that claim to trim waistlines during sleep.

"In some instances, it's a total gimmick," says Anderson. "In other instances, it will reduce a lot of water weight quickly, but it's never going to change eating behaviors, activity levels, and make that the key to their lifestyle."

This quick water weight loss never leads to real, long-term weight loss, says Anderson, noting that the only weight loss and toning plan that works involves eating well and moving your body.