Falling For A Diet Scam

It seems that everywhere you turn these days there's a new diet, magic pill, or miracle cure for those looking to lose weight. The Diet Industry is big business. Americans spend an estimated 35 billion on diet products each year. But, buyer beware. Falling for a diet scam can end up doing more than just lighten your wallet, it can damage your health, and your emotional wellbeing.

A Consumer Affairs entry by Christine, of Blaine Washington states in her complaint against Kimkins.com "I developed heart palpitations, hair loss and constipation after 2 weeks on this unsafe eating plan. I was encouraged to drop my calories below 500 per day! Luckily I stopped and saw my physician but so many hundreds even thousands of others were not as lucky..."

Rene, of Milwaukee Wisconsin also complains to Consumer Affairs about her experience with Kimkins.com. "I have had a few physical problems resulting from following this diet as laid out specifically by the founder, Kimmer (aka Heidi Diaz). I am suffering from severe and extreme hair loss. I also suffered some emotional consequences, specifically I ended up living an anorexic lifestyle, eating not more than 600 calories a day..all the while being supported, encouraged, and applauded by the kimkins organization. They gave medical and physiological reasons why this was okay to do, why it was to be supported and why I should continue."

Martha of Dearborn Heights, Michigan complains to Consumer Affairs about her purchase of BioSlim. "I ordered the diet pills over the phone they said that they were refundable if no weight loss. I also charged it to my American Express card and would like a refund because the product does not work. The reason I thought they might work is because a doctor recommended them in the commercial."

Educating yourself and researching a product is well worth the effort. Here are some signs that a weight-loss product may be fraudulent:
  • claims or implies a large and fast weight loss "fast," “easily," “effortlessly," “guaranteed," or “permanently.”
  • uses undocumented case studies, before-and-after photos, celebrity endorsements, or testimonials by satisfied customers.
  • refers to studies without giving complete references.
  • recommends a diet providing less than 1,000 calories a day.
  • prescribes vitamin and mineral supplements, often in excess of the RDA.
  • demands long-term contracts and/or advance payment.
  • recommends eliminating at least one of the major food groups from the diet.
  • states that certain combinations of food lead to weight gain.
  • doesn't recommend that consumers with health problems be under the guidance of a physician.
Another way to help avoid falling victim to a diet scam is to check for existing complaints filed by consumers against a diet, or diet product you are considering.

Search the name of the product/or company at the Better Business Bureau.
Check the weight-loss section or search by company/product name at Consumer Affairs.
Check the diet section of the Complaints Board.
Search the internet using terms such as "Name of product here" dangers (or cons, or complaints).

Remember, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

See also: The Diet / Eating Disorder Connection

Kimkins Lawsuit
Consumer complaints Kimkins: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/scam_alerts/kimkins.html
Consumer complaint BioSlim: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/nutrition/bioslim.html
Signs of a diet scam: http://nutrition.suite101.com/article.cfm/avoiding_fads_and_frauds

picsource: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sodaniechea/7048568277/


Mayberryfan said...

Wonderful post! With more people speaking out everyday about these charlatans, I hope the "diet miracle snake oil salespeople" will have a tougher and tougher time taking advantage of people.

Thank you for continuing to speak out Mrs. M!

MrsMenopausal said...

Thanks for stopping by and for the comment, Mayberry.

Anonymous said...

"I also suffered some emotional consequences, specifically I ended up living an anorexic lifestyle...."

Dieting is one of the leading risk factors in developing an eating disorder because of the unrealistic goals we sometimes set for them. Thanks for spreading the message that we need to make healthy lifestyle changes, not go on crash diets! To keep this important message going, check out this post the Center for Eating Disorder at Sheppard Pratt Blog

MrsMenopausal said...

cedhelp, very interesting article. Orthorexia is an eating disorder I hadn't heard of until reading it there. I'm very interested in finding out more.
Thank you for the link and your comment.