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Health > Wellsites8/24/05 IS Online

Fake, Fraud or For Real?

An Online Guide to Weight-Loss Scams

By Kelly Kanayama

Countless diet plans, pills and drinks promise you the body of your dreams. But which are fakes, and which -- if any -- are telling the truth? The Federal Trade Commission Web site's diet and fitness section, at www.ftc.gov/dietfit/, can help you separate fact from fiction.

The main page provides a guide to spotting the top seven signs of a rip-off. A more detailed guide to screening advertisements, addressed to people who work in media, is useful to both media and non-media people. Click on FatFoe for a parody of popular weight-loss ads -- the visuals help to cement the FTC's written warnings.

The Consumer Info section offers information on recognizing diet scams and setting realistic weight loss goals. The weight-loss page contains links to other dietary and health organizations as well. There are also guides to evaluating advertiser claims about exercise machines and buying the right fitness equipment for your needs. Another page exposes the truth behind nonprescription human growth hormone pills and sprays, which are fraudulently marketed as anti-aging remedies.

Resources links to the Web sites of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Partnership for Healthy Weight Management, which is a coalition of representatives from different fields who promote "strategies for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight."

So when you see the latest ad for weight-loss aids, check out this site first. It might save your money, your time, and most importantly -- your health.


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