If you spend any amount of time on the internet reading health news, you’ve probably seen the attention-grabbing ads on search engines or websites, that say something like, “Acai Berry EXPOSED – Health Reporter Discovers the Shocking Truth.” If you click on the ad, it takes you to a website where you can read the reporter’s exposé. The trouble is, says the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), these health reports are not what they appear to be.
“Almost everything about these sites is fake,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The weight loss results, the so-called investigations, the reporters, the consumer testimonials, and the attempt to portray an objective, journalistic endeavor.”
The FTC received numerous complaints from consumers who paid between $70 and $100 for weight-loss products after having been deceived by these fake news sites.
Now the FTC is trying to shut them down. They are requesting federal courts to temporarily halt the allegedly deceptive tactics of 10 operations that use fake news websites to market acai berry weight-loss products. The FTC hopes to permanently stop what it believes is a misleading practice and has asked courts to freeze the operations’ assets pending trial.
In peddling the acai weight-loss products, the defendants post internet ads that drive traffic to fake news sites and ultimately to the sites where merchants sell the products. The defendants receive an “affiliate” commission whenever a customer clicks through to the merchant’s site and purchases products or signs up for a free trial.
The FTC reports that the defendants collectively have paid more than $10 million to advertise their fake news sites, and have likely received well in excess of that amount in ill-gotten commissions.
Weight Loss Traps
Unfortunately the weight loss industry is fraught with deceptive trade practices. The FTC recommends that consumers view these products with a healthy dose of skepticism and think twice before spending your money on products that make any of these false claims:
"Lose weight without diet or exercise!"
Achieving a healthy weight takes work. Take a pass on any product that promises miraculous results without the effort.
“Lose weight no matter how much you eat of your favorite foods!”
Beware of any product that claims that you can eat all you want of high-calorie foods and still lose weight. Losing weight requires sensible food choices. Filling up on healthy vegetables and fruits can make it easier to say no to fattening sweets and snacks.
“Lose weight permanently! Never diet again!”
Even if you’re successful in taking the weight off, permanent weight loss requires permanent lifestyle changes. Don’t trust any product that promises once-and-for-all results without ongoing maintenance.
“Block the absorption of fat, carbs, or calories!”
Doctors, dieticians, and other experts agree that there’s simply no magic non-prescription pill that will allow you to completely ``block the absorption of fat, carbs, or calories. The key to curbing your craving for those “downfall foods” is portion control. Limit yourself to a smaller serving or a slimmer slice.
“Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!”
Losing weight at the rate of a pound or two a week is the most effective way to take it off and keep it off. At best, products promising lightning-fast weight loss are false. At worst, they can ruin your health.
“Everybody will lose weight!”
Your habits and health concerns are unique. There is simply no one-size-fits-all product guaranteed to work for everyone. Team up with your health care provider to design a personalized nutrition and exercise program suited to your lifestyle and metabolism.
“Lose weight with our miracle diet patch or cream!”
You’ve seen the ads for diet patches or creams that claim to melt away the pounds. Don’t believe them. There’s nothing you can wear or apply to your skin that will cause you to lose weight.
Federal Trade Commission – News Release
Federal Trade Commission – Consumer Guidance