• People Misled About Diet Supplements and Trends
  • March 12, 2015 | Author: Stephen J. Burg
  • Law Firm: Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C. - Englewood Office
  • There is always a new diet trend or weight-loss pill that gains an immediate following. People want to be fit and healthy and trust in supplements and "miracle drugs" to make them so. But according to a new survey by Consumer Reports, people are largely misinformed about the effectiveness and safety of these substances.

    The Consumer Reports Research Center conducted a survey involving 3,000 Americans, which found nearly one in four consumers purchase diet supplements believing they will work for them. Pieter Cohen, M.D., a physician at Harvard Medical School and the Cambridge Health Alliance, studies supplements and discussed the findings of the survey with Consumer Reports. He noted people trust the advertising too much without looking into any form of evidence to support the claims.

    The survey revealed people are unaware of the risks many of these supplements cause, as they feel the pills are safe and regulated. Cohen said not only are many of these diet products unsafe, but they aren't regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the way food products and medicines are.

    "The labels on weight loss supplements look like those on over-the-counter medications, and the supplement facts are organized like nutrition facts labels," Cohen said. "There's no way for consumers to tell the difference. It gives you the sense the products are being scrutinized by the FDA."

    In fact, the FDA has no role in guaranteeing the safety of dietary supplements, reported HealthDay. This lack of regulation means the products can be touted as having health benefits, but have no need to support the claims. Additionally, many of these products use chemicals and stimulants that have never been tested on humans, reported Vox.

    "So the combination of no human trials before these products reach store shelves combined with [the] fact we have no systematic way of detecting harm, it's like throwing a match into a forest during a drought," Cohen said, according to Vox.

    Not only dietary pills
    But the trend of people being misled by healthy options is not restricted to dietary supplements alone. Food diets are also misleading and have people choosing the wrong foods for the wrong reasons, according to Medical Daily.

    James DiNicolantonio, cardiovascular research scientist at St. Luke's Hospital, told Medical Daily the diet trend of calorie-counting is a waste of time. He noted calories are not all the same, and by simply focusing on the number people are depriving themselves of valuable nutrition. For example, calories from sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, white rice and white flour are different than calories from vegetables or grains. Calories from sugar spike blood pressure and create a prime environment for insulin levels to rise. This will cause the blood sugar to drastically fall again once the sugar calories have been burned up, which they do at a faster rate than vegetable or grain calories, and cause more cravings.

    "The fact is that some calories will squelch a person's appetite and promote energy utilization, while others will promote hunger and energy storage," DiNicolantonio. "So while some calories send messages to the brain and body that say 'I'm full and ready to move,' other calories send messages that say 'I'm still hungry and just want to lie down on the couch.' Not all calories are the same, and in order to promote healthy weight and better health, we need to take special note of the calories we are choosing to consume."

    Promoting health without evidence

    These diet trends and weight-loss pills aren't promoting themselves. Advocates like Dr. Oz promote a vast number of "miracle drugs" without evidence to support the claims, according to a report by Consumer Affairs. The source noted that less than half of his recommendations for promoting health could be backed up with scientific evidence.