Don’t Get Suckered by False Weight Loss Hype

You’ve seen them on cable tv, or heard those late night pitches, or read the ads in the back of magazine or online… “magic” “dramatic” “lost 10 pounds in a week…” “totally natural…”

So called “magic” weight loss supplements pop up everywhere. Hoodia, Hydroxycut, Green Tea, Acai Berry… the list goes on. They’re on drugstore shelves, available by mail order or by calling a toll free number – free samples! You know that saying “if it sounds too good to be true…?” Uh huh.

The Food and Drug Administration has come out very strongly against these non-regulated dietary supplements – and advises anyone that is considering them to speak with a doctor first. They could kill you (Remember Phen-Fen?)

Dietary supplements, in general, are not FDA-approved. Under the law (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994), dietary supplement firms do not need FDA approval prior to marketing their products. It is the company’s responsibility to make sure its products are safe and that any claims are true.

Just because you see a supplement product on a store shelf does not mean it is safe or effective. Tainted prescription products that have since been pulled off the market (like Meridia) due to fatal or long term serious side effects found in some of these supplements.”These products are not legal dietary supplements,” says Michael Levy, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Division of New Drugs and Labeling Compliance. “They are actually very powerful drugs masquerading as ‘all-natural’ or ‘herbal’ supplements, and they carry significant risks to unsuspecting consumers.” Watch out for warning signs like:

* promises of quick action, such as “lose 10 pounds in one week”
* use of the words “guaranteed” or “scientific breakthrough”
* labeled or marketed in a foreign language
* marketed through mass e-mails
* marketed as an herbal alternative to an FDA-approved drug or as having effects similar to prescription drugs

– (from

The Mayo Clinic has a very helpful chart that lists many popular supplements and their claims — as well as how effective and safe they are (or aren’t). The best way to lose weight for most people is still the old standby – smaller portions, no junk food, and exercise. It’s not glamourous, it won’t happen in a week, but it works. And with a doctor’s OK, it’s safe. No magic tricks here.

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