Don’t Believe All The Hype
In the past couple of weeks, consumers learned about at least two companies that were accused of deceiving the public by boosting their product's health claims. Each company has to pay millions in class-action lawsuits.
First, it was Ferrero, which makes the hazelnut spread, Nutella. TV advertisements show a mom giving her children the wholesome goodness of "simple, quality ingredients like hazelnuts, skim milk and a hint of cocoa."
People who have tried the spread say it's delicious and that it's a great alternative to peanut butter. However, as one litigant put it, "it's the next best thing to a candy bar." In fact, the first two ingredients are sugar and modified palm oil.
Up next was Skechers, the makers of the supposedly toning shoe, Shape-Ups. They were slapped with a $40 million fine by the Federal Trade Commission, which said the company perpetuated "unfounded claims that Shape-ups would help people lose weight and strengthen and tone their buttocks, legs and abdominal muscles."
It doesn't end there. The FTC also said the science behind the claims was flawed. Two of the studies were conducted by a chiropractor, who is married to the senior vice president of marketing at Skechers, presenting a potential conflict of interest.
While it's good the FTC called out the company on its bogus studies and are sending a message to companies that it's not OK to deceive the public, we still have to do our part. I think it's going a tad far for an individual to sue a company because of its health claims because information is available to us. We just have to do our research, or better yet, just open our eyes. Again, read those labels. You can always find the truth in the ingredient and nutrition lists.
The promotion of bogus health claims has been around for more than a century, and some companies will continue to find new and legal ways to put a spin on it. It's why the Food and Drug Administration and FTC were established -- to protect us from the snake oils and potions that crowded the medical industry at one time.
Today's snake oils also come in the form of the next best diet plan. With nearly three-fourths of the country overweight or obese, companies and investors will try to cash in on our vulnerabilities.
A magic pill, shake, meal replacement or quick-fix plan is so much easier than moving our bodies and changing the way we eat. The problem is, it almost never works long-term. If "diets" really worked, then there would be no multibillion-dollar market for the books, pills, diet food and plans. And we'd all be slim and healthy. Problem solved.
Granted, some people have to find what fitness regimens and certain foods work best for them, but the sure-fire way to weight loss and weight maintenance always will be choosing a healthy, practical life style -- and being consistent with it.
As for the diets, shoes and cookies that are supposed to help you drop 20 pounds in one week, just don't believe the hype.