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Guest Editorial by the Better Business Bureau
As we get ready to flip the calendar to a new year, advertising bombards us with home gym equipment, weight loss programs, and food delivery services. These ads have many people thinking now is the time to get into shape.
To help avoid weight loss scams, BBB has the following tips.
•Be wary of advertisements and customer endorsements promising “miracle” results or immediate weight loss. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, evidence suggests gradual loss of 1-2 pounds per week is a healthy goal and is more successful for achieving long-term weight loss. Ask your doctor what an achievable weight loss goal for you would be.
•Determine your fitness goals. It’s hard work to lose weight. Find a program you can stick with, preferably one that you enjoy. Before you commit: Does a weight loss plan require special foods? Can you cancel if you move or find that the program doesn’t meet your needs or is more expensive than anticipated?
•Avoid products that claim to help lose weight without diet or exercise. Be incredibly skeptical of claims that you don’t have to give up favorite foods or reduce the amount you consume. Doctors, dieticians and other experts agree that losing weight takes work. Pass up any product that promises miraculous results without any effort.
•Check a product’s ingredients with the FDA. Be suspicious of taking special pills, powders or herbs. Recalls of products happen when it contains specific ingredients with potentially dangerous side effects. Check the list of public notifications from the FDA regarding potentially harmful weight loss products.
•Be wary of a lack of ingredient lists. Some companies leave off ingredient lists, so be aware that some supplements can come with harmful side effects or mix adversely with prescription drugs.
•Read all terms and conditions for any weight loss product. Before clicking “check out” or “purchase,” make sure the cart only includes the items you wish to purchase and does not include signing up for a subscription unless this is an option you want. Be cautious of any contract that takes payment from your credit card until you contact them to cancel.
•When participating in online forums and chat rooms focused on weight loss and fitness topics, be wary of individuals pushing products they claim will help quickly reach goals.
•Research the company with BBB.org before purchasing. Read reviews about the company to see if any complaints are alleging that it’s a scam.
•Be cautious of free trial offers – and before signing up, understand all the terms and conditions. These deals can become “subscription traps” that hook consumers into expensive shipments of products they did not agree to buy.
•Report the deceptive ads. Be suspicious of overly positive testimonials on the company website. Testimonials are an easy marketing tool and can be fraudulent, and these can come with exaggerated before and after pictures.
•Check BBB Scam Tracker to research and report scams. For more advice on or to find BBB Business Profiles of businesses or charities, go to BBB.org.
For BBB tips on joining a gym, click here. For BBB tips on purchasing home fitness equipment, click here.