to Spot a Fitness Fraud
by Deborah L. Mullen, CSCS
"Turn your body into a super fat-burning
"Washboard abs in just 5 minutes a day!"
"Exciting new development!"
If It Sounds To Good Too Be True, It Probably Is.
How many times have you heard this? Yet, ads and infomercials can be so seductive, you really
want to believe the wild claims they promise, so you may be tempted to suspend good
judgement and buy into the fantasy. Substandard and fraudulent products hurt more than
just your wallet. When a product doesnt do what it claims to do, youll feel
let down. This can lower your self-confidence and can even lead you to believe that your
fitness goals will never be achieved. This article will help you to identify fitness
frauds and give you tips and resourses on so youll be able to make better decisions
when buying fitness products.
Buyers Beware Checklist
Quackery is not easily detected. Use this checklist before purchasing a product
advertised in a mail-order catalog or on TV.
|Is the product supported entirely by
|Is there any controlled, randomized
scientific evidence supporting the sales claims?|
|Do the experts associated with the program
have the proper credentials?|
|Is the person selling the product
|Does the promotion use any pseudomedical
|Does the promotion boast a secret formula or
|Do the claims seem miraculous or
|Is the product appealing to your vanity?|
|Does the suggested use of the product seem
out of keeping with the desired outcome (e.g., "just three minutes a day toward
|Does the fine print contain any disclaimers?|
|Does the offer include additional free
(Buyers Beware Checklist from
"Consumerism and Quackery", IDEA Magazine, May 1998 by Len Kravitz, PhD.)
Online Buying Tips
You need to have confidence in the company and product youre buying online. Does
the company have your best interests at heart? If in doubt, search for clues as to their
reliability. Do they have a phone number? You may want to call to check them out further.
Ask a question by e-mail and see how long they take to respond. Ask the company for
independent research that substantiates their claims and promises. You can check out the
company on the Better Business
Bureaus Business Report page. Their page states "The Better Business Bureau
collects and reports information to help prospective buyers make informed decisions in
dealing with business and charitable organizations."
If In Doubt, Ask An Expert
The media is quick to announce the latest health/fitness discovery, regardless of the
source. Unfortunately, this new claim may later be retracted when proper studies are made.
But quacks will use (and misuse) questionable data to convince you to buy their product.
What should you believe? If you dont have the time to sort through information
dispensed from reputable sources, you should ask an expert. A certified fitness instructor
should be able to separate fact from fiction.
Your Tax Dollars At Work
The Federal Trade Commission says that "consumers waste billions of
dollars on unproven, fraudulently marketed, and sometimes useless health
care products and treatments." They advise all workout "wannabes" to
exercise good judgment when evaluating advertising claims for fitness
Avoid the lure of fitness-product charlatans and increase your skills at making
educated buying decisions. Try not to buy the hype and stick to "if it sounds to good
too be true, it probably is."
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