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4 Fool-Proof Ways to Spot a Weight Loss Scam

By Jason Brick

The weight loss industry is so filled with scams that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a guide about recognizing unscrupulous weight loss advertising. The introduction to that guide included the following condemnation:

“The public must adopt a healthy skepticism about advertising that promises miracles and ‘scientific breakthroughs’ and face the reality that there are no fast and easy fixes for overweight and obesity.”

It doesn’t even take a doctor or certified personal trainer to tell the scams from the real deals. You just need to look for these tell-tale signs that a weight loss program isn’t on the level.

Unrealistic weight claim losses

After the beginning days of a diet, when you’ve dropped water weight, authorities in the health field say the maximum rate of healthy, sustainable weight loss is one to two pounds per week.

If a plan claims faster weight loss, one of two things is probably going on. The advertisers may be publishing claims of atypical or imaginary results, or the diet is based on unhealthy practices that won’t give you the long-term weight loss you’re seeking.

Lack of support

Solid weight loss programs provide support to help you make the necessary lifestyle changes. This can come in the form of a regular motivational email, an ongoing online forum, or an in-person local support group. Programs that charge a one time, up-front fee, without contact after the transaction, are less likely to be valuable to you in achieving your weight loss goal.

Odd dietary restrictions

Good weight loss diets conform to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Many fad diets, though, recommend eliminating one kind of food, or eating disproportionately large amounts of another.

Though these diets may produce results in the short term, they rely on tricking your body into a state of physiological emergency. At best, this means putting on weight once you return to healthy eating. At worst, it can put you at risk for malnutrition-related health disorders.

Focus on supplements

Weight-loss supplements can help you lose weight quickly, but they don’t address the root cause of your weight problem or the lifestyle decisions that aided your weight gain in the first place. Also, many supplement companies want to keep you dependent on taking their products over the long term. Finally, you need to research the mechanism behind the weight loss for any supplement you consider. Many are simply a package of stimulants and diuretics.

Losing weight, and keeping it off, takes time, effort, and discipline. You won’t go wrong if you apply grandma’s advice to any weight loss program — If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

November 7th, 2011

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