Pulse: Avoid the weight loss fads and scams

CW Staff

Every so often, a new fad in weight loss rears its head in the media. Television viewers are constantly attacked by advertisements promising quick weight loss results.

Consumers often have a difficult time telling the difference between weight loss diets and products that can help them lose weight, improve their health and help them feel better about themselves from something that can be harmful to their body.

Dangerous fad diets and products can be difficult to spot. There are several key words and phrases that can help consumers better identify them.

If a diet labels a single food or food group such as fats or carbohydrates as being “bad,” that is a strong indication that that product or diet could be a swindle. Advertisements that focus on individuals’ testaments of quick weight loss results are likely not for an effective product. Any diet or product that guarantees fast, effortless weight loss is likely not worth the time.

Don’t assume that all weight loss products on the market are safe for you to use. Manufacturers are responsible for testing their products and ensuring that they are safe for the general public before releasing them onto the market.

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for eliminating products that are unsafe for consumers only after the product has already reached the market. This means manufactures can release dangerous products onto the market to be purchased by consumers.

These dangerous products can remain on the market until consumers have brought problems to the attention of the FDA.

Reading the labels on weight loss products labels is very important. Each ingredient may have different risks and effects on your body.

For instance, any product containing ephedra or an ephedra substitute may cause high blood pressure, seizures, heart rate irregularities and sudden death.

The popular weight loss supplement Alli contains small doses of the prescription drug Orlistat, which decreases the body’s ability to absorb fat. Decreased absorption of fat is fine for most individuals if they moderate their fat intake. Otherwise, you can imagine that there may be unpleasant effects if large amounts of undigested, unabsorbed fat pass straight through your digestive system.

Not all fads in weight loss are bad. Alli, for instance, can be a useful tool for individuals who want to lose weight as long as they moderate their fat intake while using the product.

Some great weight loss fads have come along such as Weight Watchers. It offers a supportive, effective approach to weight loss. One thing that successful, safe weight loss fads have in common is that they encourage consumers to eat fewer calories, exercise more, and make gradual changes in their lifestyle.

There are no shortcuts to weight loss. If you follow a very rigid, calorie-restricted diet, then you will likely lose weight. When you return to your old way of eating, the weight will come back.

They only way to effectively lose weight is to incorporate small changes into you daily life. Start by making small changes like walking in the afternoon or cutting back on your dessert portions.

Gradually incorporate more exercise into your daily routine, and cut back on your calories. The results may not be as immediate but they will surely last longer.

JoLee Seaborn is a senior majoring in nutrition. Her health column runs on Wednesdays.