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Here is How You Can Gut Check Weight Loss Ads on Their Believability

Tim Boyer's picture
weight loss

Weight loss ads specialize in pushing all the right psychological buttons to get us to buy into their promises of weight loss. While some supplements may actually AID weight loss WITH added diet and exercise, it can be hard to decide which one to choose. To help spot the fat phony from the real deal, the Bureau of Consumer Protection offers these 7 gut checks.


Gut Check #1: Causes weight loss of two pounds or more a week for a month or more without dieting or exercise.

It’s a fact of science—weight loss requires taking in fewer calories than your body uses each day. And to ensure that you are burning enough calories each day, you need to exercise. So, any claims stating that you will lose weight even without a change in eating habits or an increase in exercise activity, should be a red flag for any smart consumer.

Gut Check #2: Causes substantial weight loss no matter what or how much the consumer eats.

This is one that is just too good to be true and is often hidden within a claim like, “Need to lose 20, 30, 40 pounds or more? Eat your fill of all the foods you crave and watch the weight disappear!” The Bureau of Consumer Protection warns consumers that it’s impossible to eat unlimited amounts of food―any kind of food―and still lose weight. It’s a matter of science.

Gut Check #3: Causes permanent weight loss even after the consumer stops using product.

If you are fortunate enough to lose weight while taking a particular supplement, there is no way that weight loss will remain permanent unless some lifestyle changes are made such as making sensible food changes and upping your activity level.

One of the more convincing ad claims try to convince consumers that permanent weight loss is possible because the supplement has changed your metabolism, e.g. “It’s not another weight loss gimmick. It’s a unique metabolism accelerator that changes how your body burns fat. Why settle for temporary weight loss when you can get rid of those flabby thighs and that unsightly muffin top once and for all.”

Gut Check #4: Blocks the absorption of fat or calories to enable consumers to lose substantial weight.

According to the Bureau of Consumer Protection, without lifestyle changes, no over-the-counter product can block enough fat or calories to cause the loss of lots of weight. There are some legitimate fat blockers out there; however, to work they must be used with a reduced-calorie diet. Watch out for claims like, “Block fat before your body absorbs it. The pounds and inches will melt away.”

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Gut Check #5: Safely enables consumers to lose more than three pounds per week for more than four weeks.

This is a false claim say medical experts who warn that losing more than three pounds a week over multiple weeks is an unsafe practice that could lead to painful gallstones and other health complications. Avoid any diet that promises fast and significant weight loss that they claim is safe to try. Typically you will find these kinds of ads during the spring promising to get your body bikini-ready by summer.

Gut Check #6: Causes substantial weight loss for all users.

The truth is that no product will cause every user to drop a substantial amount of weight. It just doesn’t make any sense that as different as everyone is, that there is a guaranteed weight loss pill that will work for everyone. Look out for ads that state, “We’ve found the diet supplement guaranteed to work 100% of the time―regardless of how much you want to lose.” Any ad that makes a universal promise of success is lying to the consumer.

Gut Check #7: Causes substantial weight loss by wearing a product on the body or rubbing it into the skin.

According to the Bureau of Consumer Protection, “Weight loss is an internal metabolic process. Nothing you wear or apply to the skin can cause substantial weight loss. So weight loss claims for patches, creams, lotions, wraps, body belts, earrings, and the like are false. There’s simply no way products like that can live up to what the ads say.

Some favorites include earrings that stimulate metabolism-boosting energy currents in the body; weight loss underwear infused with caffeine or other weight loss compounds; and, fat burning gels that will penetrate the skin and melt fat away at the cellular level.

For more about what to watch out for in weight loss ads, here’s the entire reference guide offered by the Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Image Source: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Reference: Bureau of Consumer Protection