Fake Weight Loss Products and Programs

It’s little wonder why people fall for weight loss scams.

Weight loss scams are appealing because they feed on legitimate fears. Obesity is a major factor in contributing to heart attacks, strokes, cancer, diabetes, gallstones, and gout. And many other diseases. Not only that. Obesity also causes high blood pressure, which itself can bring on heart attacks and strokes. Moreover, obesity can trigger depression.

As a result, from a purely medical standpoint, everyone ought to control his or her weight. And if you don’t, the odds are you wish you did. One estimate is that Americans alone spend $35 billion a year on weight loss potions and remedies. For the most part, they’re throwing their money out the window.

We may not want to hear it, or even consider it. But the bottom line is that there is no way to lose weight without a proper diet and regular exercise. That’s because to lose weight you must reduce caloric intake below the number of calories you burn through activity. You accomplish the former by altering the types of foods you eat and the quantity of food you eat. You accomplish the latter by ceasing to be a couch potato.

Weight Loss Scams Are Easy to Spot and Easy to Avoid…

All the diet pills and magic elixirs in the world cannot change the laws of nature. Here’s why: There is no capsule that allows you to eat anything you want as much as you want and still lose weight. Nor anything else. So, any business that makes such promises is a scam. Period.

Many of these scams are downright silly. In 2017 Women’s Day magazine published a list of “5 of the Craziest Weight Loss Scams in American History.” Their heyday dates back a number of decades, but people once took these fads seriously. Now, with the comfort of time, it’s hard to believe that anyone did.

  • “Trim” reducing-aid cigarettes (packaged as “clinically tested,” no less)
  • Vision dieter glasses (yes, you read that right)
  • Tape worms (real ones!)
  • Vibration machines for your tush
  • And the perpetual favorite, weight loss pills

…But They Still Rip Off a Lot of People

Nonetheless, in 2011, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that more Americans fell victim to weight loss scams than any other type of consumer swindle. In that year alone, 5.1 million American adults – an estimated 2.15% of consumers – threw their money out by purchasing scam weight loss solutions.  

Nine years later, in the first quarter of 2020, fake diet products and weight reducing potions were still at the top of the FTC’s list of the most common health-related scams.

Of course, the bogus remedies out there today are no less silly than the cigarettes or posterior shakers that supposedly would shed your weight in the 1950s. Or the vision dieter glasses that would prevent you from seeing enticing colors on candy wrappers in the 1970s — while simultaneously eliminating hunger pains.

Examples of Typical Contemporary Weight Loss Scams

Some weight loss scams packaged as supplements may contain varying amounts of medicines and could actually be harmful if not prescribed and monitored by a physician. Others are just nonsense.  Be especially wary about claims of a miracle cure and offers of free samples, as well as celebrity endorsements. In Australia, a nationally recognized physician and television host found that his name was being used to hawk fake weight loss pills that he would never endorse himself.

Consider, for example, these bogus panaceas:

  • A food powder, available in 12 flavors, that supposedly reduced weight without dieting or additional exercise
  • Homeopathic drops, distilled from a hormone produced by the human placenta, that, if applied under the tongue, ostensibly enabled a weight loss of seven pounds in seven days (as long as you stuck to a low-calorie diet, of course)
  • Micro-encapsulated caffeine-infused “shapeware” (an astute marketing euphemism for underwear) that was supposed to zap fat cells
  • A shrinking beauty cream that “simulates a lobster’s ability to shrink its body” and would do the same to yours
  • L’Occitane’s Almond Beautiful Shape and Almond Shaping Delight creams that were supposed to trim 1.3 inches off a user’s thighs in four weeks, except that they didn’t
  • “Double Shot” red and blue placebo capsules, the former to block calories and the later to burn fat, producing a loss of 30 pounds in a single month
  • A green coffee antioxidant whose marketer claimed would allow users to lose 17.7 pounds, 10.5% of body weight, and 16% of body fat with or without diet and exercise, in 22 weeks
  • “Get High School Thinny” supplements that were supposed to lead to “rapid and substantial weight loss,” which the FTC found to be “scientifically infeasible”
  • The “ab GLIDER,” popularized on TV ads featuring the svelte Elisabeth Hasselbeck (who obviously didn’t need it to get into shape), which, according to the advertisements, would trim inches off waistlines if used for as few as three minutes a day

Catching the Scammers

Ultimately, the FTC forced the companies behind all these scams to cease publicizing their outrageous claims. In addition, it leveled fines of almost $40 million on them.

But it doesn’t matter how many weight loss scams the FTC and parallel government agencies around the world catch. There are always others to take their place. Beyond that, the threat posed by so many weight loss scams is cumulative. Victims don’t just pay for one month’s supply of this or that. Weight loss scams generally suck you into thinking you are dependent on purchasing more and more quantities of the product. And month after month, year after year, the amount of money you lose grows to become a small fortune. In 2014, in fact, the FTC, together with the State of Connecticut, settled a case with a company called LeanSpa, which issued press releases that made unsubstantiated claims that its products could effectively reduce weight. The products cost $79.95 each and subsequent regular deliveries were difficult to prevent. Restitution to consumers was ordered, and the last payments were made in September 2020.

If you think you have been victimized by a weight loss scam, consult with the fund recovery experts at MyChargeBack.