Weight Loss and Dietary Supplements
The array of dietary supplements — vitamins and minerals, amino acids, enzymes, herbs, animal extracts and others — has grown tremendously over the years. Although the benefits of some of these products have been documented, the advantages of others are unproven.
For example, claims that a supplement allows you to eat all you want and lose weight effortlessly are false. To lose weight, you must lower your calorie intake or burn more calories — for example, by increasing exercise. Most medical experts recommend doing both.
Similarly, no supplement can help you lose weight or cure arthritis or cancer in a matter of days. Such claims are false. Consumers should be wary of any claims for a dietary supplement that say it can shrink tumors, cure insomnia, cure impotency, treat Alzheimer’s disease, or prevent severe memory loss. These kinds of claims deal with the treatment of diseases, and companies that want to make such claims must follow the Food and Drug Administration’s pre-market testing and review process required for new drugs.
Being obese can have serious health consequences. These include increased risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, gallstones and some forms of cancer. Losing weight can help reduce these risks. Some points to remember:
- Any claims that you can lose weight effortlessly are false. The only proven way to lose weight is either to reduce the number of calories you eat or to increase the number of calories you burn off through exercise. Most experts recommend both.
- Extreme low-calorie diets are risky and should be pursued only under medical supervision. When unsupervised, they can deprive you of important nutrients and are potentially dangerous.
- Fad diets rarely have any permanent effect. Sudden and radical changes in your eating patterns are difficult to sustain over time. In addition, so-called “crash” diets often send dieters into a cycle of quick weight loss, followed by a “rebound” weight gain once normal eating resumes, and even more difficulty reducing when the next diet is attempted.
Some dieters peg their hopes on pills and capsules that promise to “burn,” “block,” “flush” or otherwise eliminate fat from the system. But science has yet to come up with a low-risk magic bullet for weight loss. Some pills may help control the appetite, but they can have serious side effects. Amphetamines, for instance, are highly addictive and can have an adverse impact on the heart and central nervous system. Other pills are completely worthless.
Avoiding Weight Loss Fraud
The Federal Trade Commission undertakes efforts to combat weight loss fraud and dietary supplement fraud. It has successfully challenged marketers of pills claiming to absorb or burn fat. The FDA has banned 111 ingredients once found in over-the-counter diet products. None of these substances, which include alcohol, caffeine, dextrose and guar gum, has proved effective in weight-loss or appetite suppression. To avoid being the victim of weight loss fraud and adverse health consequences, beware of these products that are touted as weight-loss wonders:
- Diet patches, which are worn on the skin, have not been proved to be safe or effective.
- “Fat blockers” purport physically to absorb fat and mechanically to interfere with the fat a person eats.
- “Starch blockers” promise to block or impede starch digestion. Not only is the claim unproven, but users have complained of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pains.
- “Magnet” diet pills allegedly “flush fat out of the body.”
- Glucomannan is advertised as the “Weight Loss Secret That’s Been in the Orient for Over 500 Years.” There is little evidence supporting this plant root’s effectiveness as a weight-loss product.
- Some bulk producers or fillers, such as fiber-based products, may absorb liquid and swell in the stomach, thereby reducing hunger. Some fillers, such as guar gum, can prove harmful, causing obstructions in the intestines, stomach, or esophagus.
- Spirulina, a species of blue-green algae, has not been proven effective.
If you are a victim of weight loss fraud or other types of health-related fraud, you may be entitled to compensation for your financial losses and suffering. An experienced attorney can evaluate your case.
Contact Consumer Fraud Online to discuss your options with a lawyer.