How to spot diet scams
Dietitian Leslie Beck talked with Balance Television host Dr. Marla Shapiro about diet scams and offered up six red flags to help you spot them.
Promises a miracle
"Sure, you can lose 10 pounds in 10 days. Just imagine what happens if you eat cabbage soup or grapefruits day-in, day-out. But you know that's not safe. There are health consequences," Beck said. "Any rapid weight-loss diet must be medically supervised. What happens when you lose weight fast is you're losing more than that fat, you're losing muscle and water and what happens when you lose muscle is your metabolic rate slows down."
The result? It gets harder to lose weight as you carry on and easier to gain the weight back.
Guarantees "easy" weight loss
Diets that promote easy, effortless weight loss should be avoided. To lose weight in a healthy fashion you have to change your eating habits and incorporate exercise. "For many of us, that's not effortless," Beck said. "It takes discipline and work."
Sells a "must have" product
Beware diets or programs that sell or promote a "must-have" product that is the key to weight loss, Beck warned. "The problem with that is, it really sets up, in my mind, an artificial environment." The short term solution doesn't teach you how to shop for and cook healthy foods and how to order in restaurants, all key to keeping weight off once you're off the diet.
Rejects modern medicine
Many fad diet authors reject the prevailing wisdom of doctors and dietitians, Beck said. "They claim to be nutrition experts and yet they dismiss years of scientific evidence around diet and weight loss and they offer their own unconventional solution that will work."
Offers enticing testimonials
"Testimonials are so easy to get," Beck explained. "They're not based on science, they can come from anywhere." Even if the person lost the weight you have no way of knowing if they kept it off. Look for scientific research to support the diet or program as opposed to quotations from alleged success stories.
Gives a "money back guarantee"
"Most companies have no intention of giving you your money back," Beck noted. "And even those that do know that very few people will actually go to the trouble of sending the product back."
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