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.