BBB: Don't Fall For Fraudulent Diet Supplement Claims

CHICAGO -- Spring is the time when people are trying to slim down for summer.

While some turn to the gym or a healthy diet to achieve their goals, others turn to diet pills. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns consumers to be cautious of weight loss supplements that claim you can lose weight over a short period of time without changing your lifestyle.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there have been over $35 million in fines for several national companies making unrealistic claims against weight loss. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also put out warnings that fraudulent supplements could be tainted, causing injury or even death.

"When you are trying to meet your goal, it's easy get interested in fast weight loss claims," says Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "However, these supplements can be harmful not only to your wallet, but also to your health. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is, which makes being cautious with their use even more important."

Bernas noted that diet pills are sold at a wide variety of retail stores, as well as specialty shops, online and through TV advertisements.

These products may show unrealistic "before and after" photos, promise to burn as much as 45 pounds a month without diet or exercise, guarantee permanent weight loss, fail to disclose whether results are typical, or use logos of news organizations with fake or altered media coverage of the pills.

The advertisements may also claim to be an alternative to prescription medication. And some may be marketed as "totally safe" or "treat and cure" diseases.

Here are tips to avoid danger of these diet aids:

Consult your healthcare provider - Certain products or their ingredients can interfere with performance of prescription medication, worsen existing health conditions or cause problems for women who are pregnant or nursing.

Research the supplement - Check out products' and manufacturers' Business Reviews at The Food and Drug Administration,, also is a resource for researching supplements and their ingredients.

Be skeptical of exaggerated claims - Ignore any product that promises out-of-the-ordinary results or dramatic changes within a short period. There are no instant fixes.

Be selective about your online research - Rather than doing a quick search through an online search engine, when you look for information on supplements, use respected websites run by the government, a university or reputable medical database.

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