Wouldn’t it be great if you could rely on what you read in print advertising?
What if all the ads on the television, radio and your computer were factual and you could make wise decisions based on what you heard or saw.
We all know that advertising can “fudge” on the truth but it has never been more evident than in the world of weight-loss products and nutrition.
I have written about this subject before but every once in a while, particularly after you tell me about some of the weight-loss items and programs you have purchased, I feel it’s a good practice to remind you of a few facts.
A few years ago the Federal Trade Commission released a study that analyzed ads for products and services that promise quick and easy weight loss and the study found that over half of these ads had at least one claim that was outright false or couldn’t be substantiated.
In that study the FTC evaluated over 300 ads from broadcast and cable television, infomercials, radio, magazines, newspapers, tabloids, direct mail, e-mail and Web sites. It found 40 percent of the ads made at least one false claim and 55 percent made claims that haven’t been proven.
How do they get away with it you say?
Well there is a little item called the First Amendment in our Constitution that guarantees our right and their right, the drug and vitamin manufactures, to free speech.
The Supreme Court has been a little reluctant to tamper with the words of our forefathers although the FTC and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have brought case after case of false advertising and unsubstantiated claims before the court.
In fact the FTC has taken more legal action against false advertising of weight-loss products in the last few years than the previous 70 years combined.
They win some, they lose some, the FTC took legal action against a weight-loss company in California that manufactured a “fat trapper” and “exercise in a bottle” product for false claims and advertising the company was forced to pay $10 million back to its customers.
The FDA, on the other hand, took a supplement company to court for claiming that folic acid can reduce spinal cord defects and lost even though there is no definitive proof that folic acid can do such thing.
What’s the bottom line? Pay attention.
In the study by the FTC it broke down the most common claims and techniques of weight-loss companies.
For example it found consumer testimonials were used 65 percent of the time.
Claims of fast results or guaranteed results were used in over half of the ads.
Before and after pictures were used 42 percent of the time and the statement that you don’t need to diet or exercise to lose weight was used in 45 percent of these ads.
The words “clinically proven” were used in over 40 percent of the studied ads with no substantiation of this claim.
It is amazing what unscrupulous advertisers will try to get your money.
In every column we’ve written, seminar we’ve presented or in our relentless preaching Rebecca and I have told you that you have to exercise and be on a well-balanced nutritional program to be healthy.
There is no other way to lose weight or to have a healthy, happy life.
Everything else is a Band-Aid but the wound will never heal.
Most of us have a trusting nature and when it comes to our health it’s hard to think that anyone would make products or statements that would be ineffective or harmful. Unfortunately, with a lot of health companies and so-called health gurus it’s more about the money than your health.
Your defense is to read, use Web sites like Web MD find facts and get to know the institutions or clinics you are thinking about working with.
You can also visit our wellness center in Tempe Arizona just off the I-10.
God bless you and yours, Mick.