We all know the old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” So, why do we continue to put our blind faith – and our hard-earned money – into weight loss gimmicks and gadgets that promise amazing results with very little effort on our part?
There’s nothing magical about weight loss. It’s all about taking in fewer calories than your body burns. You can boost your progress by adding activity to your program. But even then you won’t see your extra pounds vanish in a flash.
Thankfully, the Federal Trade Commission has been playing watchdog for us. In recent weeks, the FTC cracked down on several high-profile companies that had been making questionable claims about their weight loss products.
"Operation Failed Resolution" called out Sensa, Inc., LeanSpa, LLC, L'Occitane and HCG Diet Direct.
eDiets Chief Nutritionist Susan Burke March has spent several decades educating consumers about weight loss that works.
She weighed in on the FTC’s action.
"It is great to know that our federal agencies are working hard to protect us from diet scams, but it's a constant battle,” she said. “That's the nature of our free marketplace. It's not always easy to know what to choose, so I always urge people to ignore the front of the label and, instead, read the ingredient list first. If it's unwieldy with unpronounceable words, don't buy it.
“For example, if you're shopping for a whole grain cereal, the first ingredient should be whole grain. Too often, the package illustrates seemingly healthy foods with illustrations of fruit and wheat on the front of a package of breakfast cereal. But turn over the package and read the ingredients and you might just find bleached flour and artificial colors and flavors.
“I say, we're also free to choose to lose weight healthfully by eating well and staying active."
While the FTC considers its operation a success, it knows the war on bogus claims is far from over.
"Resolutions to lose weight are easy to make but hard to keep," Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. "And the chances of being successful just by sprinkling something on your food, rubbing cream on your thighs or using a supplement are slim to none. The science just isn't there."
A CNN news report noted that only three weight-loss drugs are currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for long-term use: Belviq, Qsymia and Orlistat. The latter is sold over-the-counter by the name Alli.
The FTC said it had reached a settlement with Sensa, Inc. and a partial settlement with LeanSpa, LLC.
Sensa, a powdery substance that’s meant to be sprinkled over food, is supposed to curb hunger. CNN noted: “Sensa's advertising claimed the product is clinically proven to help people lose an average of 30 pounds in six months without dieting or exercise.
“Three of the four companies charged owe money to reimburse customers, according to the FTC: Sensa will pay $26.5 million; L'Occitane, Inc. will pay $450,000; and LeanSpa will surrender ‘cash, real estate and personal property’ totaling $7.3 million.”
The FTC website notes:
Advertising claims for weight loss products and services inevitably over-promise. The products and services themselves almost always under-deliver. Changing your diet and exercising more are the keys to successful weight loss. Find out how to evaluate weight loss and fitness claims before you buy products or services that claim to make it fast or easy to slim down or shape up.
We here at eDiets applaud the FTC action. We work hard to provide our customers with the meal plans and platforms they need to lose weight in a healthy, safe manner.
Claims to watch out for…
eDiets Chief Editor John McGran has an extensive background in online dieting and tabloid news. He covers the celebrity beat for eDiets.