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Late-night television is awash in get-slim-quick schemes, and it’s hard to spend more than a few minutes online without being serenaded by “one weird trick” to reduce belly fat. We sort of know in the back of our minds that these pitches have something wrong with them, but what, exactly?

The Federal Trade Commission has a guide: Gut Check: A Reference Guide for Media on Spotting False Weight Loss Claims.

This is for media outlets deciding what ads to run, but obviously not enough media are using it! Here are the basics:

Think twice before running any ad that says a product:

  1. causes weight loss of two pounds or more a week for a month or more without dieting or exercise;
  2. causes substantial weight loss no matter what or how much the consumer eats;
  3. causes permanent weight loss even after the consumer stops using product;
  4. blocks the absorption of fat or calories to enable consumers to lose substantial weight;
  5. safely enables consumers to lose more than three pounds per week for more than four weeks;
  6. causes substantial weight loss for all users; or
  7. causes substantial weight loss by wearing a product on the body or rubbing it into the skin.

    Lots more information at the site about each of those items, and you can also take a quiz. (The quiz answers explain how scammy ads dress up sketchy claims with the kinds of disclaimers that let them pass by the FTC, too.)

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