BBB offers tips to avoid weight-loss scams

By John North - Contributing columnist

DAYTON – People’s desire to lose weight fuels a $70 billion weight loss industry.

In fact, losing weight or getting into shape is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. Each year, there are always new products being advertised to help ranging from pills to creams to drinks. These products claim to guarantee weight-loss. Truth is not all these products are what they claim to be.

The Better Business Bureau offers tips to lose weight and avoid scams:

• Go to your doctor to discuss the best plan to lose weight and how much weight is the ideal amount to lose. Some products claim they’ll help you lose a lot of weight within a short time, which can be unhealthy.

• Watch out for words in advertisements like “breakthrough,” “secret,” “exclusive” or “miraculous.” These words are used to grab your attention and persuade you into buying the product.

• Avoid products saying you can lose weight without a diet or exercise. Doctors, dieticians and other weight-loss experts all agree losing weight takes time and effort. It’s healthy to lose one to two pounds a week.

• Be wary of special pills, powders or herbs. These products aren’t always tested with scientific research and approved by The Food and Drug Administration. Check the list of ingredients with the FDA. Some companies have been known to not advertise certain ingredients, which could have harmful side effects or when mixed with prescription drugs could also have harmful side effects.

• Be cautious when a company guarantees weight loss. Shady companies know many consumers won’t take the time to follow the steps to get their money back. And, scammers won’t stand behind money back guarantees.

• Be cautious in online forums and chat rooms. Participants may push you into using a product they claim will help you reach your goal.

• Research companies. Make sure they are reliable by looking at customer reviews and history of any unlawful claims.

• Make sure you aren’t subscribing to something you don’t want. If it has a subscription, know if you have to purchase a particular quantity before you can cancel.

• Ask about a free trial, but you might have to pay for shipping and handling and fully understand when the free trail begins and ends.

• Be suspicious of positive testimonials and celebrity endorsements. Testimonials can be a useful marketing tool and are easy to fake. The people may even be paid actors.

• Remember, if it sounds too-good-to-be-true, it probably is. To make weight-loss permanent, you must have a change in your lifestyle with healthy eating habits and exercising regularly.

For more information about weight-loss products, visit or call 937-222-5825 or 800-776-5301. Better Business Bureau can provide a list of BBB Accredited Businesses in the industry and Business Profiles on companies whose products you’re considering. Also, you can get information about advertised diet products from the FDA (

By John North

Contributing columnist

The writer is the president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Dayton and Miami Valley.

The writer is the president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Dayton and Miami Valley.