Better Business Bureau tips to avoid dieting scams

Every January, the goal to lose weight and get in shape is at the top of New Year’s resolution lists. After all the snacking and feasting that goes on from Thanksgiving to Jan. 1, that’s no big surprise.

Before reaching for the latest diet pill or miracle cream, Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington urges consumers to keep this in mind: Many of the products boasting quick, easy and permanent weight loss are bogus. Doctors and health experts agree that the safest, most effective way to lose weight is through proper eating habits and regular exercise.

To lose weight without getting caught up in a scam, follow BBB’s tips:

  • Ask a doctor how to lose weight in a healthy way or which dietary supplements are the right choice.
  • Visit bbb.org to look up the company’s BBB Business Review and check out how they’ve handled past complaints.
  • Be wary of big claims. If a product promises to aid in quickly shedding an unrealistic amount of weight, it’s probably a scam. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Avoid the extreme. Watch out for phrases such as “quick and effective” and “totally safe.”
  • Be skeptical about testimonials. Don’t trust stories of fast weight loss or incredible results from using diet products. They are likely paid actors or people with atypical results.

For consumers who want to add a workout routine to their weight-loss plan, BBB recommends:

  • Research. Use bbb.org to find a trustworthy neighborhood gym.
  • Try it out first. Don’t feel pressured to sign up right away. Many gyms offer a free tour and trial passes to their facilities.
  • Crunch the numbers. Ask about the total cost and monthly payment schedule. Understand which services are included, and which features or programs will cost extra.
  • Read the contract. Find out how long the contract lasts, if it auto-renews and what the cancellation policy is. All the details of membership cancelling should be included in the contract.

For general tips on healthy eating, visit Nutrition.gov. Read BBB’s latest blog post for more red flags that a diet product won’t do what it claims. Check out bbb.org to learn which businesses are trustworthy, or to file a complaint.