The old adage, ‘if something looks too good to be true, it probably is’, was never more applicable than in the area of health and fitness. The news warns us that obesity levels are reaching record highs and that a large percentage of the population is leading a sedentary lifestyle. The obvious remedy to these issues, of course, in movement, and the consumption of a healthy, Mediterranean-style diet. You don’t have to sign up for a high-intensity course to be the CrossFit King or Queen in 2019. Some of the least suspected exercise regimes – including e-cycling and yoga – have been found to be highly beneficial and motivational. Start making a move next year, but be on the lookout for signs that health and fitness companies are promising more than they can deliver.
Signs of Deception
Researchers at the University of British Columbia recently devised an easy-to-use screening tool that will tell you if the health and fitness advertisements you are encountering online are scams or not. It is called The Risk of Deception Tool and it is based on extensive research into the elements that most scams have in common. Even if you aren’t using this tool, you should be vigilant, say researchers, of the following language in ads: the use of ‘mystical’ language that suggests a product has special power; assertions that an item is about to run out, so ‘you must act quickly’; and language which suggests that the item being sold is very rare or unique.
Which Ads are Most Deceptive?
The researchers found that there are certain health and fitness sectors that are often targeted by scammers. These include weight loss, muscle building, and sexual improvement. Often, scams can involve the sale of dangerous supplements or medications that purport to quell pain, asthma, and other health conditions, when they have no such effect. In the case of supplements and skincare products, buyers should be particularly wary, since some of these can contain toxic ingredients or can interact with current medication being taken. The researchers also discovered numerous alternative health practitioners who stated their therapies were far more effective than they actually were.
Warnings by the FDA
Only around 1% of people exposed to fraudulent ads lose their money to fraudsters. To bring this number down to zero, it is important to be wary of ads promising ‘quick or miracle fixes’, even if they do offer a money-back guarantee. The FDA has published a list of items to watch out for, including kratom products (which can contain nickel and lead – two heavy metals that are harmful to health), certain male enhancement products, and unproven products for treating diseases like cancer.
The FDA regularly takes action against websites and companies making claims to cure health conditions they are neither authorized nor able to cure, so stay up to date with their publications on recent scams. It is important to take a commonsense approach to ads that promise big results with little or no effort. Nothing beats exercise and a sound diet if you want to achieve weight loss or fitness goals. Burn more calories than you consume, and take part in aerobic and strength workouts to get into shape and keep obesity at bay.