- Posted June 18, 2014 by
Lies and Scams in the Weight Loss Industry
The size of the prize is huge—the weight loss industry is said to be worth $61 billion. Wherever there’s a large consumer base willing to shell out funds, naturally there are enterprising people willing to provide their needs and take their money. Unfortunately, this means that among honest businessmen making legitimate claims, there are also shady characters peddling shaky promises at least, and lies and scams at worst. Recent data from the Federal Trade Commission reported that false information can be found in about 15% of weight loss ads. It has also been reported that weight-loss products make up 13% of fraud claims made to the FTC. Furthermore, this year, the FTC penalized three companies to the tune of $34 million for misleading advertising. Controversial claims have been made at all levels in the industry, from small players to major companies. Financial penalties, settlements and court cases are not unheard of in an industry where competition is high, the profits to be made are huge, and consumers are willing to believe shaky weight-loss claims in order to burn fat fast. That said, there are still many honest businesses making honest claims. The question is—who can consumers trust to deliver on their claims? The rule of thumb, unfortunately, is to trust no one. Do not trust claims that sound too good to be true. The history of the weight-loss industry is so long and the problem has been investigated so rigorously by so many parties for so many years; what are the chances that there is suddenly a ‘magic bullet’ that can serve as your weight-loss cure-all? You may also want to check with your physician or dietician if the products or programs you are interested in are aligned with your capabilities and fitness goals. At the very least, read the fine print and do your own research. In the information age, almost every data need is just a few keystrokes away. Blogs, YouTube and other forms of social media have brought consumers a venue to air out product reviews, both positive and negative—see what your peers have to say, and don’t forget to check if they have been compensated to make reviews. If you’re interested in a product or a company, Google the name and add words like “scam” to see if any telling results pop out. Other red flags can be found through the websites of organizations that protect consumers, among them the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Better Business Bureau. One weight loss and fitness expert and entrepreneur, Wesley Virgin of 7DayFitness.com and author of “Changed: Secrets of the Fitness Industry,” has gotten particularly creative in courting consumer confidence. Taking advantage of social media, he boldly makes his life an open book as a testament to the effectiveness of his health methods and actively encourages web engagement with his audience. Whether you peek closely into the life of your chosen fitness guru or do your research in other ways, the bottom-line is that you should always be informed about the purchasing decisions you make.