You have probably heard already: the FTC to Announce Action Against Internet Marketers of Acai Berry Weight-Loss Pills and “Colon Cleansers.”
Watch this video from ABC news for the story.
When the Center for Science for Public Interest investigated acai berry success weight loss personal blogs, they found that the pictures are all of ONE model, taken from istock.com, and edited to look like she has lost weight!
I don’t know what bothers me first, the fact that the claims are false, or the fact that you can’t cancel your purchase!
I want to clear one thing first: this is a health and nutrition blog. I know many people are against the FTC or the government for taking too many actions on behalf of people, creating too many laws, interfering with business and their marketing, and so on. But, from a health care professional perspective, whose first and foremost interest is the well being of people, I’m relieved someone is coming after these companies.
Acai is a healthy fruit (ps.like many others). There’s no argument here. Is acai the magical food you can pack in a pill or juice and expect to magically lose weight? Absolutely not.
Some bloggers claim that the FTC should not interfere and people must take responsibility of their actions; which is getting fooled by such scams. On some level, I agree. Acai is not the first–and won’t be the last–pill to promise quick effortless weight loss. And dietitians have repeatedly warned people about such FAD diets and products.
At the same time, I can understand falling victim. Anyone who has tried everything possible to lose weight is an easy prey for such marketing scams.
Here’s another problem. In the business world, marketing is all about telling people whatever you want–truth or lie–to make them believe your product is the best for them so they buy it. Don’t we all see those car commercials offering the most space or the best road control?
But the medical community functions differently. We abide by codes of ethics. And these ethics tell us what we should and shouldn’t do. We shouldn’t deceive our patients or clients. We can’t tell a lie. And we have to think of their health before we think of our own pockets.
But supplement companies are business-oriented. No body knows what they put their products, and no body can prove that they work. They made money from the gullibility of some people. Still, this doesn’t change that these claims are unethical.
Even Oprah and Dr.Oz are going after Acai berry companies that falsely used their names as endorsement.
This is a wake up call for consumers. The internet is the wild west when it comes to nutrition information, and Nutritionist like myself know that and are trying to fight back our own way. Want trustworthy nutrition information?
First: don’t get it from someone trying to sell you a product.
Second: get it from a reliable source. If you want to read a blog written by a registered dietitian, look for one in Nutrition Blog Network.
Will this be the end of acai pills and similar products? One would hope so. If not the end of them, then at least the beginning of more conscious consumers.