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November 2013

Will the Advertised Diet Plan Actually Work?

Five weeks ago, I had dental surgery that required breaking my jaw in five places. I was then placed on a liquid/soft food diet, resulting in a 20-pound weight loss to date. As you might expect, friends and co-workers are comparing jaw breaking to diet plans and wonder if they can tell up front whether or not an advertised diet plan might work. Medical professionals experienced in weight loss control clearly state there is no more effective method of weight loss or control than ensuring adequate exercise and limiting food intake to reasonable quantities of nutritious foods. Ok, so how can you tell what diet plans might not work?

As you know so well, many different types of diet plans are marketed to consumers through the media. These ads shout that you will lose weight by taking some kind of pill or spreading some type of cream that is a “scientific breakthrough,” is “clinically tested” and is “100 percent guaranteed.” Various paid spokespersons then testify that they lost weight using the diet plan. Many diet plans also state their product is in short supply and that you need to call right away to get the product or it will not be available. All of these statements and marketing tactics are common tricks of the trade and are used because they work well to part you from your hard-earned money.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has identified “red flags” that should make you think twice about purchasing the diet product. First, beware if the marketer states the product can cause weight loss of two or more pounds per week without dieting or exercise. According to the FTC, marketers claiming to make a person lose weight without diet or exercise are falsely advertising their diet products. Second, beware if the advertisement states it will cause substantial weight loss regardless of how much you eat or what you eat. The FTC finds such claims are misleading because it is generally not possible to regularly eat at fast food restaurants, for example, and still lose weight. Third, advertisers often say their diet product will cause permanent weight loss even if you quit using their product. The FTC, once again, states this is not possible because the only way to sustain your weight loss is through exercise and diet control.

Fourth, diet-plan marketers will often say their product blocks the absorption of fat or calories and that this is all that is required to lose weight. This is not true. There are products that will block the accumulation of some fat, but even these must be used in combination with a reduced-calorie diet to really have an impact. Fifth, some advertisers will state that their product causes substantial weight loss for all users. This too is not possible. There is no recognized diet product that is guaranteed to work for every person who uses it.

Finally, beware of diet plans that use the following: diet patches, topical creams and lotions, body wraps, special clothing, rings, earrings, body belts, and shoe inserts. The FTC notes that none of these products have been proven to lead to substantial weight loss.

Once again, proper diet and exercise is the only proven method for sustainable weight loss. Watch out for those plans that will only lighten your wallet or purse.


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