Facts on Diet Pills and the FTC

ABC's "World News" reported today that the Federal Trade Commission had fined the marketers of four weight-loss pills $25 million for making false advertising claims about their products. The ABC News Medical Unit has collected some quick facts that you should know about the FTC's decision.

The fines go to the makers of Xenadrine EFX, CortiSlim, TrimSpa and Bayer's One A Day Weight Smart. According to the FTC, these manufacturers used deceptive claims, not backed by science, to advertise their products.

Some of the products marketed their claims through infomercials or celebrity endorsements. Anna Nicole Smith, for example, has endorsed TrimSpa. The FTC said that celebrity testimonials are no substitute for scientific proof.

Check out the FTC report here: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2007/01/weightloss.htm

Why You Should Be Wary

Over-the-counter diet pills -- like Xenadrine EFX, CortiSlim, TrimSpa and Bayer's One A Day Weight Smart -- are not considered to be drugs or medications, so the pills aren't regulated by the FDA the way prescription medications are. Manufacturers don't need to prove that the pills are safe or effective. While these products aren't necessarily dangerous, they might be a waste of money. It's wise to approach any nonprescription diet aid with a skeptical eye.

Tips You Can Use

   Read the literature that comes with the supplement package. Were any clinical studies done to test whether the product is safe and effective? Were the studies done by independent research institutions or by the company that makes the supplement?

   Over-the-counter and over-the-Internet diet pills and supplements can interact with prescribed medicines. The combined effects can be dangerous and even deadly.

   It is important to tell your doctor and registered dietitian what herbal products you may be taking so safety concerns can be identified. There's no magic bullet here, and if you're on certain medications while taking some of these supplements, the bullet could travel in the wrong direction.

   All the supplements in the world cannot make up for what has been proved to work: diet and exercise. Make small changes in the foods you eat and move your body more.

   A registered dietitian can work with you over time to improve your health through proven nutrition strategies.

   Of course, if you have more questions about diet pills or your diet, talk to your doctor.