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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Bogus Diet Plans Can Cause Money Loss

LAS CRUCES -- People who are always on a diet may be losing more money than weight. Many diet products being advertised are not worth the money people pay for them, said a consumer education specialist with New Mexico State University.

Health-related fraud costs consumers billions of dollars each year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. About $6 billion are wasted on weight-loss products alone.

"Carefully consider diet plans, especially those that make promises like you'll lose 30 pounds in 30 days, before investing your hard-earned dollars," said Susan Wright with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service. "With these kinds of plans, you're losing weight far faster than you should. If you lose weight at all, it usually comes back very quickly."

Fast weight loss also can cause health problems and medical expenses down the road. "All you're going to lose in these kinds of situations is probably your money," Wright said.

Prepackage meals may work, but are usually expensive, she said. Many of the programs that tell consumers they can lose all the weight they want for a certain amount of money have hidden costs. In some cases, prepackaged meals cost additional money.

"Even if the prepackaged meal seems to be affordable, do some quick calculations," Wright suggested. "Take into account that you'll need to decrease your diet by about 500 calories a day in order to lose one pound a week."

Wright said when looking for a diet plan, consumers should remember two things -- make sure it's safe and worth the money. This usually means a lifestyle change of eating the right kinds of foods and exercising to stay healthy and keep the weight down.