Losing weight without diet or exercise sounds enticing, but consumers need to be aware that most weight loss products on the market are designed to melt away your money rather than pounds. The deceptive marketing of weight loss products dupe consumers more than other types of consumer fraud.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, roughly 5.1 million consumers in the U.S. purchased and used fraudulent weight loss products in 2011—totaling more victims than prize promotions, buyers’ clubs, Internet services and other complaint categories. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also tested weight loss products suspected to be unsafe and found sixty nine to be tainted with many different ingredients including controlled substances, seizure medications, prescription drugs, and drugs not even approved in the United States.
A common misconception is that the FDA has reviewed the dietary supplements sold in stores and online. Some of the products claim to be “natural” or only contain “herbal” ingredients, but actually contain potentially harmful ingredients not listed on the product’s label. These products have not been approved by the FDA, are illegal, and may be potentially harmful to you.
It’s not just dietary supplements – fraudulent weight loss products include nonprescription drugs, skin patches, creams, wraps or earrings.
Know What You’re Taking
Learn what ingredients are in the weight loss product. Some ingredients, including plant components and nutrients, can be toxic. Other ingredients can be harmful when consumed in high doses, when taken long-term, or when used in combination with certain other drugs, foods or substances.
- Don’t buy into unrealistic advertising claims, such as: “Drop two dress sizes in a week!”
- Watch for statements that imply endorsement or approval by the FDA.
- Scammers often dress up actors to look like doctors to promote their product.
- There is no ‘magic pill’ for weight loss. Natural or herbal does not mean safe and effective.
- Scammers often alter before and after pictures or provide testimonials with unrealistic results.
- Beware of official looking web sites or the use of words such as ‘Guaranteed’ or ‘Scientific Breakthrough’.
Consumers need to also watch out for automatic billing through free trial offers. Companies will offer free trials that require only a payment for shipping, but if you read the fine print, you will be subjected to automatic billing on unwanted products or memberships.
Check with Your Doctor
Weight loss products, including those that contain dietary supplements, herbals, and vitamins may be harmful in individuals with certain medical conditions or can interact with other medications. Ask your doctor before starting any weight loss product or program.
Compensation for Weight Loss Fraud Victims
Weight loss products on the market don’t always result in injury to the user, but some do. Lipodissolve products are a good example. False and misleading claims about lipodissolve products include, ‘Lipodissolve will melt your fat away…without surgery… without downtime… and with great results!’ The FDA has received several reports of permanent scarring, skin deformation and deep painful knots under the skin in areas where the lipodissolve treatments were injected.
If you have used a weight loss product that may have illegal or damaging ingredients, visit a physician immediately. If a product has caused you injury or illness, contact a consumer fraud attorney as soon as possible to see what legal rights you have against the manufacturer.