Consumer Protection

How to Protect Yourself: Weight Loss Fraud

Source: The Florida Attorney General's Office


The lure of losing weight immediately without dieting or exercising but by merely taking a magic pill is irresistible to some consumers. However, medical science has yet to create such a pill. Weight loss promotions that offer the magic cure will only thin your bank account and not your figure. You should always be skeptical of any weight loss cure that promises quick results and doesn’t include changes to your diet and exercise routines.

Be wary of claims that sound too good to be true.

Be concerned when the advertisements use words such as “breakthrough discovery,” “secret,” “exclusive” or “miraculous.” These words have no scientific meaning, but are words intended to grab your attention and convince you to purchase a product. There is no pill that allows you to lose weight permanently without dieting and exercise. There is no pill that makes “pounds simply melt away.” Often these “magic pills” are strong laxatives, diuretics or caffeine pills that can cause serious health problems.

Be careful of glowing testimonials.

Often these testimonials are impossible to verify. (Try finding “Mary S. from New York City”). Instead, research the product independently to see what others are saying about it. Try searching online for the product’s name and “review,” “complaints” and “fraud.” Additionally, you may see if there are any prior complaints or lawsuits pending against a company or product by checking with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) and governmental agencies like the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Check with your doctor before purchasing a weight control product.

Before you purchase any weight loss product or program, consult with a physician, a licensed nutritionist or a registered dietitian. Do not assume that a product that says it is FDA-approved is safe for you. Some companies and salespeople will claim a product is FDA-approved even when it is not. Also, not every FDA-approved drug will be safe for you individually depending on conditions you may have or other medications you may use.

Check for consumer complaints.

To see if there are any prior complaints or lawsuits pending against a company or product, check with the local Better Business Bureau and governmental agencies like the Office of the Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration.

File a complaint.

If you feel you have been the victim of fraudulent weight loss claims, you may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office online at www.myfloridalegal.com or by phone toll-free at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM. Additionally, you may file a complaint with the FDA complaint coordinator for the state of Florida toll-free at 1-866-337-6272.