Beware of weight loss promises that sound too good to be true


Losing weight is a popular New Year’s resolution, but consumers should exercise caution when purchasing diet and weight loss products to help them on their journey, especially products that advertise a free trial.

“Miracle” products that promise easy weight loss are ubiquitous on the Internet, and you may be enticed to try these products through a “risk-free” trial: simply enter your name, address, and credit card number, and the product will be activated. its way for only a nominal shipping and handling charge.

However, according to a December 2018 in-depth survey from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the fine print associated with many of these free trial offers trap consumers in so-called “subscription traps.” that hook them on costly shipments of products they have not explicitly agreed to purchase.

Every year, BBB Scam Tracker reports hundreds of scams associated with free trial offers.

In Ste. A woman Geneviève said she lost $ 200 after ordering a free sample of a product she saw mentioned in an online article. The company subsequently billed her a $ 99 subscription fee, the woman told BBB Scam Tracker in March 2021. She said that by calling the company to complain, she was billed $ 99 a second time. , even though the company had emailed him assuring him that the subscription had been canceled.

BBB also received nearly 900 complaints in 2021 regarding weight loss and diet products and services. Common complaints included never receiving any products ordered, results that were not as advertised, or products that caused an adverse reaction.

Consumers who want to lose weight or improve their fitness should be commended for their determination and aided in their efforts, not skinned by companies making unsubstantiated claims. If a miracle drug or other rapid weight loss program sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Before starting a weight loss program, BBB advises consumers to consult a physician for an overall health risk assessment. The doctor may recommend weight loss options or exercise programs that are appropriate for your condition and your ability to stick to a program.

Always ask your doctor if you intend to start taking any medicine or dietary supplement. If your doctor prescribes such medicine for you, find out about any side effects or possible complications and report any changes you experience after taking the medicine to the doctor.

BBB offers these tips for investing in diet or fitness programs or products:

• Ask your doctor what an achievable weight loss goal would be for you. Beware of claims that you will lose tens of pounds in a short period of time, like a few weeks; Most people’s body cannot bear this kind of weight loss.

• Determine your fitness goals. It is hard work to lose weight. Find a program that you can stick to, preferably one that you like. Does a weight loss plan require you to buy special foods? Can you cancel if you find the program does not meet your needs?

• Avoid products that claim to help you lose weight without diet or exercise, and be skeptical of claims that you shouldn’t give up your favorite foods or cut back on how much you eat. Doctors, dieticians and other experts agree that losing weight takes work. Pass up any product that promises miraculous results without any effort. Try to stock up on healthy vegetables and fruits to resist the high-calorie treats. However, eliminating all your favorites might cause you to fail. It’s best to limit portion sizes or how often you indulge.

• Beware of taking special pills, powders or herbs. Sometimes these are gimmicks and offer little to no specific scientific research to back up the claims.

• Beware of a lack of an ingredient list. Some companies have been accused of not advertising certain ingredients that can have harmful side effects or mix negatively with the prescription drugs you are taking.

• There are never any guarantees when it comes to losing weight. Be careful when a company says it can guarantee weight loss. There is no magic pill for losing weight. Shady dietary supplement companies know that few people will take the time and effort to get their money back, so making a money back guarantee is not a waste of money concept. Many companies will not even honor their alleged warranty.

• Beware of overwhelmingly positive testimonials on the company’s website. Testimonials can become an easy marketing tool and are easily tampered with. These are often accompanied by dramatic before and after images.

• Read all the terms and conditions of any weight loss product you purchase. Make sure that you only buy the items that you want to purchase and that you don’t take out a subscription unless you want to.

• Research a company’s reputation. Some dishonest players in the industry sell products that don’t work, have nasty side effects, or both.

• Check with BBB before purchasing product subscriptions. Check a company’s BBB Company Profile on The profiles include the history of the company’s complaints and whether the complaints have been resolved. If customers have written reviews, they can appear on a business profile.

Michelle Gleba is the Mid-Missouri regional director for the Better Business Bureau.

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