Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.

March 28, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357


Baltimore - In this month's issue of his Consumer's Edge newsletter, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. urges consumers not to waste their money on weight-loss products that have no proof of effectiveness and which may actually have health risks. Curran says consumers should be skeptical of advertisements that tout ways to lose weight quickly and easily with promises such as "Eat All You Want and Lose Weight" and "Speed Up Your Metabolism the Natural Way."

"Unfortunately, no one has really invented a magic pill for weight loss," Curran said. "In the meantime, hucksters continue to peddle products that are a waste of money and can sometimes be harmful."

The Attorney General says that consumers should

Be skeptical of "amazing scientific breakthroughs." Many products claim to "burn," "block" or "flush" fat from the body, but have no proof that they can actually do so. The "doctor" who developed the product may not be a medical doctor or may not have the credentials claimed.

Note the disclaimers. If a product is advertised to help you lose weight "when combined with a low-calorie diet and exercise," it might be that the diet and exercise alone is what would produce weight loss. If this is the case, ask yourself what it is you are buying.

Know that "natural" or "herbal" does not equal "safe." Many herbal ingredients are toxic in certain doses, cause allergic reactions, or react with medications.

Some weight loss products can have serious side effects. Appetite suppressants that contain amphetamines can be addictive and harmful to the heart and nervous system. Some herbal "dieter's teas" contain powerful laxatives or diuretics that can cause heart arrhythmias.

Curran's Consumer Protection Division advises that instead of turning to promises in a magic formula, consumers should seek advice from a doctor or nutritionist to plan a new diet and exercise regimen. Consumers considering a supervised weight loss program can find tips for choosing a good one at www.consumer/gov/weightloss.

Curran's office distributes The Consumer's Edge free to more than 800 businesses, agencies, schools and community associations. Groups interested in receiving a monthly issue should call 410-576-6956. The newsletter is also available at the Attorney General's website at