Whether you are seeking to shed a few pounds or treat a serious condition, beware of products that offer miracle cures. Every year, consumers spend billions of dollars on untested, fraudulently marketed, and utterly ineffective health products.
Regard miracle health products with a healthy degree of skepticism. Not only are they likely to be a waste of your money, without a doctor’s guidance, using them may put your health at serious risk.
Weight loss scams. Products that claim to help you change your body with little to no effort may result in short-term temporary weight loss but can be dangerous if followed over a longer period. Often times they have no competent or reliable scientific evidence to back up their health claims.
Nutritional supplements. Just because a product is labeled natural or healthy, it doesn't mean it's safe or effective. Nutritional supplements may have side effects of their own, reduce the effectiveness of other medications, and cause serious complications in high doses - even some vitamins. Like any other health product, always consult with your doctor before you start taking any supplements and regard any too-good-to-be-true health claims as just that.
Miracle cures. Fraudulent health products often target people who are seeking treatment for conditions like cancer or those for which for which there is currently no cure such as HIV, Alzheimer’ disease and diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with a serious condition, always consult with your doctor before beginning any treatment. Not only can a product labeled “natural,” can be ineffective, it can even be dangerous or disrupt treatments your doctor has prescribed.
Proceed with caution if a product:
- Guarantees results. Every body is unique and what works for one person may not work for another - even with the same health issues
- Demonstrates a lack of scientific evidence or a demonstrated link between the product and the promoted health benefits
- Is sold only through the internet, individuals, telemarketers, mail or on television
- Claims fast weight loss without exercise or diet
- Uses terms such as "miraculous breakthrough,” "effortless” or “natural”
- Promotes one particular ingredient as the central factor for success, or uses a lot of medical jargon to explain the product’s effectiveness
- Demands large advance payments, or requires you enter into long-term contracts. Learn more about deceptive promotional offers
If you are considering a health product, always consult with your doctor before you begin using it.
You can also search Be Informed, DOJ’s online tool, to find out whether other consumers expressed concern about a particular health product company. Many customers also share their experiences with local businesses, both good and bad, by posting consumer reviews online.
If you believe you have been sold snake oil in a health product or weight loss scam, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline.
Learn More from the Federal Trade Commission
Applicable State Law: