BBB Urges Chiropractic and Weight Loss Industries to Adhere to Self-Regulation

  
     
April 26, 2017

In recent years, your Better Business Bureau (BBB) has found several weight loss programs being used in the chiropractic industry that make unsubstantiated and misleading advertising claims. With the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) recent action taken against Pittsburgh based company, NutriMost Wellness & Weight Loss LLC, BBB is advising consumers to be careful when choosing a weight loss program. BBB is also reminding the chiropractic and weight loss industries of the importance in adhering to self-regulation and BBB's Code of Advertising, which is derived from FTC rules and regulations governing advertising.

Typically, chiropractors provide weight management services that may involve dietary counseling, nutritional supplementation, exercise therapy and behavioral counseling as part of their practice. However, BBB recognizes a new trend in many chiropractors' weight loss programs in which such unsubstantiated claims are being promoted as, "Lose 40 pounds in 40 Days," "No Strenuous Dieting" and "Lose 1 Pound Per Day."

"Fostering truth-in-advertising to protect the public and helping to ensure a level playing field for businesses is fundamental to your Better Business Bureau's mission of advancing trust in the marketplace," says Warren King, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western PA. "As a non-regulatory agency, BBB strives to work with companies through self-regulation to correct marketplace issues, but in instances where self-regulation is no longer enough, we value our strong working relationships with government entities."

Over a three year period, BBB attempted to work with NutriMost through self-regulation regarding concerns with the company's advertising and failure to respond to BBB complaints. These factors negatively impacted the company's BBB rating, resulting in an F rating at that time. BBB also raised its concerns to the FTC while providing assistance to them regarding this matter. As a result, the BBB now is able to report that NutriMost is actively facilitating a working relationship with the BBB and has voiced a commitment to adhering to the BBB's code of advertising and FTC guidelines.

BBB advises consumers who are evaluating weight loss programs to conduct thorough research and carefully weigh the potential risks/benefits of participating:

  • Consult a healthcare provider. Before committing to any weight ­loss program, consult your physician and/or a qualified nutritionist or registered dietitian. Significant weight loss should not be undertaken without competent medical supervision.
  • Do your homework. Check out the company with your Better Business Bureau and research with the Food and Drug Administration before you purchase any weight loss products or services. This may not only save you time and money, but may also save your health.
  • Avoid false or misleading advertising claims. Deceptive weight loss programs may promise the loss of several pounds/inches in a week or overnight without significant changes in diet or physical activity, which is not practical or safe. For additional information regarding weight loss claims, go to the Federal Trade Commission's Reference Guide.
  • Get everything in writing. Read all of the fine print and understand program refund policies and what recourse is available if you wish to discontinue the program or do not achieve promised results. Be skeptical of high-pressure sales tactics and one-time only offer deals.
  • Be cautious of vaguely worded testimonials. Keep in mind that testimonials cannot always be verified and in some instances, are provided by paid employees/spokespersons. Testimonials should never serve as a substitute for clinical studies and scientific proof of a program or product's efficiency.
  • Maintain realistic expectations. Keep in mind that any weight­ loss program is a temporary or partial measure; long term weight loss requires a permanent change in lifestyle. In addition, every person's metabolism and lifestyle are different, so no program or product should make universal promises of success or claim specific results for all users.


For more helpful tips from your Better Business Bureau, visit bbb.org. If you are unable to resolve a marketplace dispute with a business, file a complaint through BBB and report scams and known instances of fraud to BBB Scam Tracker.