Deceptive Weight-Loss Ads

Seen the Claims that You Too Can Lose 100 pounds in Two Months…..?

I know, this time of year we’ve all seen them—the diet ads paraded in front of us while we sit on the couch and eat that last piece of holiday pie. So, we’ve put on the holiday pounds, are feeling worse than ever, and of COURSE we know we need to get back on some sort of plan (after that New Year’s celebration though, right??).

There you have it, the chick that’s gone from a Size 24X to a Size 4 in SIX weeks, or the lady who ate “real” food and has lost 84 pounds in 3 months. Believable? For a girl who stuck to her diet like a mad woman and hit the gym 4 times a week, I call for a serious amount of false advertising—and I’d love to meet some of these incredibly shrinking women.

Ironically enough (joke), a new report from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) finds that more than enough weight-loss ads are lacking in some form of legitimacy. The review of over 300 ads that ran from 2003-2005 found that more than enough made claims promising more than the product or service could likely deliver. The ads more often than not promised to deliver easy and effective weight loss within a rapid amount of time. The ads also boasted “miraculous” results while failing to mention anything about the basics of weight loss– including portion control, maintenance, or even exercise. Many portrayed in these advertisements even bragged about “never exercising”..which is not only unhealthy, but impossible. All in all—most ads lacked scientific evidence to support their claims, and instead used misleading consumer testimonials and endorsements to reinforce the credibility of their products.

Unfortunately, it seems like the exaggerated weight-loss claims are on the rise. Richard Cleland, Assistant Director for the FTC’s Division of Advertising Practices stated that “false and misleading claims in weight-loss ads are widespread.”

Hopefully, people trying to lose weight (or thinking about joining a weight loss program) don’t fall into the claims that they can lose such large amounts of weight so quickly. Consumers need to be aware of the inaccuracy of the ads and see how misleading they truly are. The only safe and successful way to lose weight is to monitor portions, reduce caloric intake and exercise. OH! and remember, if Judy from California claims she “lost 100 pounds in 12 weeks and you can too” …if it’s too good to be true, it probably is!