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Evaluating Weight Loss Advertisements

Posted on December 20, 2021 at 10:37 AM by Iowa Weight Loss Specialists

By Rachelle McCabe, DNP, ARNP, FNP-C

It's the time of year when people start searching the internet for weight loss options for their New Year's Resolutions.  Before you click enter on the search bar, here are a few things to look out for.  

Social media has become a very popular place for marketing.  An internet search for weight loss spurs an influx of products claiming quick, effective results.  Knowing how to evaluate the claims these products make is important.  

Criteria to consider include efficacy, safety, sustainability, practicality, and cost.  Many products claim they are “clinically proven.”  This could be as simple as having 10 friends sit down, try the product, and give feedback.  9 out of the 10 friends may think it’s great.  The product can then state “90% of users…” fill in the blank. 

Look for the term “scientifically proven” instead.  This term indicates the product actually underwent true scientific methods to prove the claims.  Many products come with a disclaimer stating, "This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”  Supplements, devices, and programs are often not regulated to meet expected standards and may not even be safe. 

When considering a supplement or over-the-counter weight loss medication, look for a formula marked as NSF, USP, BSCG, or ConsumerLab approved.  This indicates the product voluntarily underwent independent quality testing to determine the product is safe and does what it says. 

Seek out programs utilizing evidence-based practices, willing to share multiple quality scientific studies to back up practices.  Results should be sustainable.  What happens if you stop taking the medication or special diet?  Is there a plan for maintaining results or follow up?  For example, a highly restrictive diet may yield great results while on it, only to result in weight regain beyond what was lost when it is discontinued.  How are people doing a year later…2 years out?  Decide if the intervention is practical.  A medication with awful side effects may not be worth it.  A device you need to tote around and use throughout the day may not be feasible. 

And lastly, cost can be an issue.  Some supplements may consist of common products, branded as a new exciting product.  Look at the ingredients.  You may be paying more for a commonly available item.  Multiple ingredients may be cheaper purchased separately.  Consider asking your medical provider if the ingredients are truly beneficial before making the purchase.  Mega-doses of water soluble vitamins may sound appealing when the benefit of each vitamin is advertised, but in reality your body just eliminates them through urine.  Many of these products are essentially just giving you expensive urine with little or no benefit.  Marketing tactics can be tricky and pull you in.  Now you have a few tactics to help see through the allure and hopefully avoid disappointing mistakes in your weight loss journey.

Iowa Weight Loss Specialists is here to help with your questions. Our services are covered by insurances and we do not have a program fee.  If you have questions or would like to learn more, please give us a call at 515-327-2000.


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