Scam Diets and How to Avoid Them

As the public obesity rate climbs past 40 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scam diets are also on the rise. The weight-loss market in America is worth over $65 billion, catering largely to people who want easy, fast results.

Like many other industries, the weight-loss market is littered with scams, taking advantage of people willing to spend money on fad diets.

Recently, social media queen Chrissy Teigen was used to sell weight loss pills by the company Keto Fit Premium. In a series of Snapchat ads, the company used Teigen as their spokesperson without permission, falsely quoting her as saying the pills made her get “so skinny so fast.” Teigen immediately fired back on Twitter, threatening to sue.

How can you spot diet scams and avoid falling into their trap?

Know the red flags

One common red flag to look out for is a diet that requires you to eliminate an entire food group. The keto diet, for example, eliminates carbohydrates. Depriving yourself of an entire food group can put a strain on your organs, which are used to using those foods to fuel your body.

Another sign of a scam is a diet that encourages you to buy a certain product. There are several brands out there that push products like diet shakes, weight loss pills, or prepared meals.

The idea is that you have to consume their specific product to lose weight. In reality, the best way to lose weight and be healthy is to consume a well-balanced diet with plenty of exercise. There are no wonder products out there that will do the work for you.

Real vs. fake food

A common trap you can fall into at the grocery store is a product that advertises itself as sugar-free or fat-free. Typically “sugar-free” means that sugar is replaced by an artificial sweetener. And in the case of “fat-free,” items might not necessarily have any real nutritional value.

Vitamins and supplements are another concern. While it’s perfectly fine to take a multivitamin every day, it is not a replacement for a proper meal. Vitamins and minerals should be derived from food sources.

A good rule of thumb is that dieting shouldn’t necessarily cost you any money, with the exception of a gym membership or a legitimate support group. Buy real food, focusing as much on whole foods and avoiding products that advertise weight loss. And always get plenty of exercise.