Project Overview

Student Learning Objectives


Content Material


Links to Course Competencies

Supplementary Resources




Real World Learning Objects: Science

Bogus Weight Loss Claims

Project Overview

            The incidence of overweight and obesity in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. More than half of all Americans are overweight and that number continues to grow. Weight loss is not easy. Since the only way to lose weight is to lower caloric intake and/or increase physical activity Americans have been turning to quick weight loss schemes that require little effort and promise quick results. Despite claims to the contrary, there are no magic bullets or effortless ways to burn off fat. Diet products may cause harm or may just be a waste of money. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) only concerns itself when products cause blatant harm as was the case with the early forms of liquid protein diets. The FDA is too busy and understaffed to pursue every diet plan or product that surfaces and most diet products fall under the classification of nutrition supplements. The FDA has little authority over nutrition supplements as they are not considered to be food or drugs. There are also numerous other fraudulent weight loss products on the market that are not considered as nutrition supplements such as creams, wraps, earrings and corsets to wrap around the body. Claims for diet products or programs that promise weight loss without sacrifice or effort are bogus and some can even be dangerous.

            The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does have authority to act on behalf of the consumers through its mission to “fight consumer fraud, deception and unfair practices”.  It is the fraudulent advertisers that prey on consumers and reap billions of dollars each year that triggers FTC action.  Consumers spend 33 billion dollars annually on weight loss products.  While the scams may vary (for example, pills, patches, clips, body wraps, insoles or "diet teas"), the claims are almost always the same; dramatic, effortless weight loss without diet or exercise. Through this project students will have the opportunity to see that there is nothing new in the diet product market. The products simply change names and addresses but the claims remain similar. Upon completion of the project the students will be able to spot bogus diet claims for what they are, fraudulent.

            The intended audience is students studying nutrition, biology, biomedical ethics, or family and consumer studies.

            The RWLO would best be used as part of a section on weight management that includes beneficial weight loss techniques and emphasizes a nutritious diet combined with physical exercise.