Weight Loss Complainants Lose Cash, Not Weight

June 03, 2013

Losing weight without diet or exercise right before summer sounds enticing, but Better Business Bureau warns that weight loss products weigh on consumers more than other types of fraud.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, roughly 5.1 million consumers in the U.S. purchased and used fraudulent weight loss products in 2011—totaling more victims than prize promotions, buyers’ clubs, Internet services and other complaint categories.

These fraudulent weight loss products include nonprescription drugs, dietary supplements, skin patches, creams, wraps or earrings.

BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington advises caution:

  • Don’t buy into misleading or unrealistic advertising claims, such as: “Drop two dress sizes in one week,” and “Lose 30 pounds in only two weeks!” Be skeptical if testimonials or before-and-after pictures seem too good to be true.
  • Lookout for statements that imply endorsement or approval by the Food and Drug Administration. For FDA guidelines, visit fda.gov.
  • Be wary of free trial offers that begin with payments for shipping and end with automatic billing on unwanted products or memberships. Read all terms, return policies and privacy policies—especially the fine print.

Before taking products or supplements, consult with a physician or registered dietician. Visit law.alaska.gov/consumer, oregonconsumer.gov or atg.wa.gov and check akorww.bbb.org for additional research and complaint resources.