Tip-offs to find rip-offs
Every day we hear about a new superfood, the next miracle cure, or a pill that provides overnight weight loss. Health fraud scams have been around for hundreds of years. Manufacturers behind these “miracle” products prey on consumers’ desires for easy solutions to difficult health issues to pad their bottom line.
Fraudulent products not only will not work, they could cause serious injury. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found over 100 weight-loss products that were illegally marketed as dietary supplements contained sibutramine, an ingredient pulled from the U.S. market in 2010.
FDA offers these tips to spot rip-offs:
• One product does it all. Be suspicious of products that claim to cure a wide range of diseases.
• Personal testimonials. “I’ve been cured” is an easy statement to make up and is not a substitute for scientific evidence.
• Quick fixes. Beware of any claim to eliminate a disease or condition quickly.
• “All natural.” Some natural plants are poisonous and can cause death when consumed. FDA has found products containing hidden and dangerously high doses of prescription or untested active ingredients.
• “Miracle cure.” Alarms should go off when you see this claim. If a real cure had been discovered, it would be widely reported through the media and prescribed by a health professional.
• Conspiracy theories. Claims stating that the authorities are hiding information about a “miracle cure” are untrue and unfounded.
It can be difficult to spot fraudulent claims. They can be promoted by popular television personalities or by persons perceived to be in positions of authority. If you are tempted to purchase a product with a claim, check with your health care professional first.
Research-based reliable sources include: public health agencies, hospitals, government sources and Web sites ending in .gov, universities and websites ending in .edu, or qualified nutrition experts, such as a registered dietitian (RD) or a Nutrition and Health Program specialist at your local extension office.