Weight Loss Scams: Save Your Money!
Weight Loss Scams
Advertisements for weight loss products are everywhere. They run rampant not only on social media platforms and video-sharing sites, but in ‘reputable’ publications such as magazines, newspapers, and on sites that purport to be supportive of a healthy lifestyle. For example, while researching this article, I found an article on a different lifestyle website, with the headline: “How to Spot a Weight-Loss Scam” and beside it, a ticker full of ads for weight loss ‘strategies’: “10 Best Weight Loss Pills”, “How to Lose Belly Fat in One Week”, “Foods that Burn Fat”, “Apple Vinegar Diet Plans”, “10 Best Foods for Weight Loss”, etc.
According to a study done in 2018, one-third of North Americans are ‘on a diet’ at any given moment. And that number has been slowly increasing. And as our society’s obsession with weight loss grows, so do the number of businesses and companies looking to profit from our desire to shed those pounds, get fit, and ‘look good’.
That being said, there are, of course, many well-meaning and knowledgeable professionals and businesses offering programs and products to help people to achieve their fitness goals. So, how do we differentiate between what is “legit” and what we should definitely “quit”?
Does It Claim To Be A ‘Miracle’?
Sorry, but there are no miracles when it comes to weight loss. Anything that claims to be “fast” or “surprising” or “unbelievable” is likely too good to be true and possibly a weight loss scam. Excessive or hyperbolic language is used to grab your attention and is often a reliable sign that the product advertised does not live up to its hype.
Does It Reference Vague Studies And Statistics?
This one is particularly tricky; we love science and, as a society, tend to trust anything that has a statistic or a study attached to it. But what are these numbers actually saying? If they reference a study or body of research, look into it. There are some questions you might want to ask, such as:
Who funded the study? If funded by the company trying to sell you the weight loss product, there is unfortunately very little guarantee that its claims are accurate.
Has the study been peer-reviewed? Is there any other existing research to support its claims? Even a quick search engine query will, more often than not, let you know if that weight loss product is legitimate or should be disregarded. And don’t forget to use our friend, Google Scholar, which offers tons of free academic and peer-reviewed studies.
What do those vague statistics actually mean? Perhaps a company claims that their diet pill “burns 75% more calories”–but more calories than what, exactly? If “90% of participants saw results”, what were the results? And did these participants who “saw results” also change their lifestyle by altering their diet or exercise program?
But Your Favourite Influencer Recommends It!
Unfortunately, someone doesn’t need to actually try a product in order to sponsor it. Remember those ‘slimming teas’ that were being hawked by every svelte teenage Instagram ‘influencer’? These influencers weren’t disclosing to their followers that they were being paid to market the tea, and that company, Teami, had to pay a million dollars in damages. Another trend overtaking social media is waist trainers. While not strictly a weight loss product, it allegedly modifies the body to create an hourglass shape but, as many doctors warn: they’re uncomfortable, its effects are short-term, and can compress your internal organs!
Does Your Doctor Recommend It?
Ask your physician or nutritionist before trying any new weight loss pill or product. Some ingredients commonly found in diet pills have undesirable, or downright terrifying, side effects. Water pills, or diuretics, are often advertised as ‘weight loss’ promoting. Yes, you may lose weight, but you’ll also likely be severely dehydrated and you’ll be spending a lot of your time on the toilet. Ask yourself: is it worth it to lose (temporarily), three pounds of water weight? Probably not.
Does It Claim That You Don’t Need To Diet Or Exercise?
Any product that claims to result in lasting weight loss without adjusting one’s diet or exercise regime is one of three things: 1) bariatric surgery, 2) a laxative, 3) absolute nonsense.
What Does Work?
We understand that the desire to lose weight can be all-consuming and stressful. When a product comes along that promises fast results without long-term commitment or behavioural change, it is natural to feel tempted. You’re not alone if you feel like losing weight–and keeping it off!–is an overwhelming and near-impossible feat.
One review looked at countless studies to find out what works for people to not only lose weight, but to keep it off. And the answer is consistency. To quote, “To maintain their weight loss, members report engaging in high levels of physical activity (≈1 h/d), eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet, eating breakfast regularly, self-monitoring weight, and maintaining a consistent eating pattern across weekdays and weekends.” The same review also suggested that weight maintenance becomes easier with time: “After individuals have successfully maintained their weight loss for 2–5 y, the chance of longer-term success greatly increases.”
If you’re starting a weight loss journey, remember: you don’t have to do it alone. There are thousands of professionals who are well-educated, experienced, and compassionate and who are dedicated to your success. Weight loss, especially fat loss, may require an adjustment in one’s nutrition and lifestyle, but it doesn’t have to be painful or boring! If you’re unsure of where to start, considering contacting Infofit, who can link you with a professional personal trainer and/or nutritionist who can fit your budget and lifestyle.
Wishing you all the best on your journey to optimum health!
Written by Theresa Faulder, Master in English, ACE-Certified Personal Trainer and Infofit fitness blog writer.