Is a Diet Pill the Recipe for a Slimmer You?

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The ads are seductive, promising easy weight loss, and Americans are increasingly buying weight-loss supplements in the quest to trim down.

"If I feel like I'm not getting it done on my own, and I come across something that looks like it won't hurt me, I'll try it," said 36-year old Sarah Calfee.

Now, increasingly, these supplements are marketed to men like personal trainer Steve Grinavi, who is always exercising but wants help shaving off that last ounce of fat.

"I'm searching for that holy grail of dietary supplements that will find that magic combination that will get me where I want to stay without any other effort," Grinavic said.

Investigating Deceptive Ads and Product Satefy

In the quest for the perfect body and the easy fix, consumers are spending about $1.6 billion a year on weight-loss supplements. Cynthia Sass of the American Dietetic Association believes they're wasting their money, and in some cases even risking their health.

"You really don't know what you're getting when you buy some of these products," Sass said. "You don't know if what's in there is what it says. You don't know if it's going to be safe, you don't know if it's going to work. You don't know what kind of side effects it's going to have."

Of particular concern are supplements containing stimulants. Studies show the popular Bitter Orange, or citrus aurantium increases heart rate and blood pressure when combined with other stimulants.

Research also shows long-term use of Yerba Mate tea increases the risk of some cancers. At one store we visited, stronger stimulants such as Red Line vbx, are kept locked away from customers who must ask for the products.

Of particular concern are supplements containing stimulants. Studies show the popular Bitter Orange, or Citrus Aurantium increases heart rate and blood pressure when combined with other stimulants.

Research also shows long term use of Yerba Mate tea increases the risk of some cancers. At one store we visited, stronger stimulants such as Red Line vbx, are kept locked away from customers who must seek the products.

"So I can tell them, you know, if you've got high blood pressure this is absolutely not a product that anyone would recommend you take," said Diana Pruitt of the Vitamin Shoppe.

But many products may not even work. The government has gone after more than 100 of these companies in the past decade for deceptive advertising.

"If there really were a miracle pill that would help you lose weight, you'd be hearing about it on the evening news not in a weight-loss ad," said Mary Engle of the Federal Trade Commission.

But for those trying to lose weight by purchasing these products -- hope springs eternal.

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