"Fad Diets," "Fast Easy Weight Loss" - Dieter Beware!

Are you one of the estimated 50 million Americans who will go on a diet this year? If so, you may be tempted by advertisements for products promising easy, quick ways to lose weight. You should know that when it comes to losing weight, gimmicks usually don't deliver on their promises.

Many dieters try to find a quick fix for their weight problems, but there are no simple solutions. Americans spend billions of dollars each year on diet books, gimmicks and other products to try to lose weight ($6 billion per year, according to the Federal Trade Commission). Almost monthly, a new book or magazine announces the latest "miracle diet," promising dramatic weight loss. Beware of "fad" diets and know how to recognize one.

When it comes to evaluating claims for weight loss products, the Federal Trade Commission recommends a healthy portion of skepticism. Before you spend money on products or programs that promise fast or easy weight loss, weigh the claims and consider these tips:

  • "Lose 30 Pounds in Just 30 Days." As a rule, the faster you lose weight, the more likely you are to gain it back. Also, fast weight loss could harm your health. Unless your doctor advises it, don't look for programs that promise quick weight loss.

  • "Lose All the Weight You Can For Just $39.99." Some weight loss programs have hidden costs. For example, some don't advertise the fact that you must buy their prepackaged meals that cost more than the program fees. Before you sign up for any weight loss program, ask for all the costs. Get them in writing.

  • "Lose Weight While You Sleep." Claims for diet products and programs that promise weight loss without effort are phony.

  • "Lose Weight And Keep It Off For Good." Be suspicious about products promising long-term or permanent weight loss. To lose weight and keep it off, you must change how you eat and how much you exercise.

  • "John Doe Lost 84 Pounds in Six Weeks." Don't be misled by someone else's weight loss claims. Even if the claims are true, someone else's success may have little relation to your own chances of success.

  • "Scientific Breakthrough...Medical Miracle." There are no miracle weight loss products. To lose weight, you have to reduce your intake of calories and increase your physical activity. Be skeptical about exaggerated claims.

For more, please visit our Weight Loss Center and Nutrition Center.

Some of the above information has been provided with the kind permission of the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov).

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Last Editorial Review: 1/28/2003