During my 30-year stint in the health and fitness industry, the one thing I never bought into was fast and easy weight-loss programs. Unfortunately, millions of people allow the weight loss industry to rake in billions of dollars annually.
Last week in an ongoing effort by the Federal Trade Commission to clean up the weight loss industry, they announced they are taking action against four companies making false weight-loss claims along with deceptive advertising. My response, “What took so long?”
The companies include, Sensa, L’Occitane, LeanSpa and HGC Diet Direct. I thought it might be helpful to learn a little more about these companies to better understand their scam and what’s being done to prevent them from deceiving practices in the future.
Sensa came to the market a few years ago. It was touted as the miracle sprinkle powder for weight loss. In the advertisements and on their website, the company claims that when you sprinkle this little “miracle” powder on your food, it will not only make you feel full more quickly, it will kick up your metabolism and increase fat burning. According to the FTC, these claims are false and without legitimacy.
Bottom line, there’s no science and no proof of their claims. Shocker, right? The company made more than $364 million in the United States and will have to pay 26.5 million to refund customers that purchased the useless product.
L’Occitane sold skin creams that promised your cellulite would disappear if you just use their products. The company asserts that had “clinically proven” slimming capabilities. Of course, once again the claims were bogus, and there were no studies done and no science to back up their assertions. They will pay $450,000 to settle the case.
LeanSpa sold acai berry and colon cleanse weight-loss supplements. When doing my research, I found their website inactive. Apparently the company has been shut down since 2011, but litigation continues.
HCG Diet Direct has been pushing their wonder hormone for years. The unproven human growth hormone was promoted by the company as a successful weight loss treatment. Sold as liquid drops, ads claimed that consumers could lose up to a pound a day if they used the solution before every meal. Of course, the science is non-existent, and no proper studies to prove their claims. The $3.2 million judgment against the company has been suspended because of the company’s inability to pay.
Avoid being scammed
For those who want to lose weight, it can become a desperate situation. Diet after diet with no success simply motivates people to look for outrageous solutions. It’s more common than not. That’s how these companies stay in business.
I wanted to write this column to help you think twice if you’re seeking a program that’s promising results that are unrealistic. Again, the diet industry makes billions of dollars each year yet obesity continues.
If you’re looking for something to assist you in reaching a healthy weight, here are some suggestions to help you find a program that is legitimate and reputable.
If it sounds to good to be true, it is.
Consider the source. Pay attention to the websites. Sites that end in .gov or .edu are pretty sure bets. In fact you can visit MedlinePlus and Healthfinder.gov; to search hundreds of health topics.
Do your homework. The FTC looks for at least two adequate and well-controlled human clinical studies. Learn where the study took place and who conducted it. Read reviews on line as well. If a study only included a handful of people for 6 months done in someone’s kitchen, it’s likely not legit.
Get your prescription drugs from U.S. pharmacies only. You could end up with products that are fake, expired or mislabeled, or worse yet, products that contain dangerous ingredients. You may end up paying for a prescription and never get your order — or your money back.
Remember that a lot of these scammers know just how to part you with your money. They know what to say and what promises to make. This time of year, scams are abundant. Since the FTC can only do so some much, do your homework, save your money and remember that simply moving more and eating well is your best bet.