The “Skinny” on Weight Loss Advertising

scale 150x150 The “Skinny” on Weight Loss Advertising

It’s almost swimsuit season, and the weight loss industry is energized!  Marketdata Enterprises forecasts the US weight loss industry will reach $66 billion in 2013. Most people aspire to have that “bikini body” by summer.  With so many diets, weight loss programs, and pills on the market today, which plan or program is right for you?  

Advertisers should be prepared to show the facts that claims are based on. Here’s where BBB plays a role, by asking businesses to show substantiation for claims in advertising.  

In its ongoing review of advertising, BBB serving Dallas and Northeast Texas recently reached out to Bouari Clinic of Frisco, TX. The clinic offers a weight loss assistance program. Dallas BBB asked for proof of these claims: 

  • The average male patient loses up to 1 pound of fat per day.  
  • The average female patient loses up to ½ to ¾ pounds of fat per day. 
  • The average female may expect to lose about 25 lbs in 40 days and the average male may expect to lose about 35 lbs in 40 days. 
  • Bouari Clinic Advantage Oral Spray regulates and improves the function of organs and glands to normalize their activity… to stimulate healthy weight-loss by way of hormonal balance and improved function. 

The BBB Code of Advertising states that advertisers should be prepared to substantiate any claims before publication, and also states that claims about performance, efficacy, and results should be based on recent and competent scientific data. 

Ultimately, Bouari Clinic of Frisco failed to substantiate, modify or discontinue the scientific and results-oriented weight-loss claims that were challenged by BBB in Dallas.  

Similar concerns were raised by BBB serving Southern Nevada with the franchisor, Bouari Clinic, LLC, but there was no response. 

With so much invested in weight loss each year, both financially and emotionally, BBB recommends doing some research on a company prior to transacting business.   It’s easy to check out a business at www.bbb.org or use the free BBB iPhone app, www.bbb.org/iphone 

One place to start is to weigh the claims made about a weight loss product. As the saying goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” What kinds of claims should you look out for? Beware of promises like these:  

  • Lose without diet or exercise!
  • Eat all your favorite foods!
  • Instant weight loss, guaranteed!
  • Just take a pill (or shake or bar)!
  • Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!

Be leery of programs that promise you will lose weight without diet and exercise. The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn’t about short-term dietary changes. It’s about a lifestyle that includes healthy eating, regular physical activity, and balancing the number of calories you consume with the number of calories your body uses. For more tips, see “Weighing the Claims in Diet Ads” from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  

Contact your Better Business Bureau if you find or fall victim to advertising claims that are “too good to be true”.

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About Melanie S. Alakkam

Melanie Alakkam, Senior Business Standards Analyst in the Advertising Review department, joined BBB Serving Dallas and Northeast Texas in 2010. Melanie has a passion for fulfilling the BBB’s original mission: promoting truth in advertising. She works with businesses to achieve the highest ethical advertising standards through voluntary self-regulation.