The recent Federal Trade Commision report that was critical of diet ads and exercise equipment that promised easy, quick and miraculous results, will hopefully educate more people that offers that seem to good to be true usually are.
The FTC says to be vary of ads that include the following claims:
- No Diet! No Exercise!
- Eat Your Favorite Foods and Still Lose Weight
- Scientists Announce Incredible Discovery!
- Revolutionary European Method! Ancient Chinese Secret!
- Absorbs Fat
- New Scientific/Medical Breakthrough
And any ad that describes the product as 'incredible,' 'a miracle cure,' or 'a breakthrough' should be viewed with suspicion.
In addition to targeting people who want to lose weight, there are many products targeted at other common medical problems in children, such as acne, ADHD, snoring, learning disabilities and depression.
These ads can be tempting. They often describe incredible results. And that you can get these results yourself without much or any effort.
How do you know if these products, including biofeedback devices, optometric visual training, special diets, vitamins, and minerals, really work?
It can help to be skeptical of special offers or miracle cures. Also, learn to read the fine print of an offer. If they mention that 'results may vary' or that the 'results are not typical' then you can feel fairly confident that it is a scam.
You should be especially suspicious of treatments that can be used for multiple disorders, such as ADD, ADHD, anger, anxiety, alcoholism, behavior problems, depression, manic depression, panic attacks, PTSD, sleep problems, and stress.
Alternative miracle treatments for ADHD seem to be especially popular. This is likely because it is a condition that is difficult to treat and the conventional treatment, stimulants like Ritalin, receive a lot of negative press.
In the past few years, the FTC has taken action against many ADHD treatments which were shown to be making unproven claims, including:
- Pedi-Active A.D.D promoted by Natural Organics, Inc or Nature's Plus
- Efalex and Efalex Focus, marketed by Efamol Nutraceuticals, Inc
- Pycnogenol, sold by J & R Research, Inc
- God's Recipe, distributed by New Vision International, Inc.
The FDA has also sent warning letters to the company Better Way Kids, which originally promoted Calm Focus to be a 'natural approach to treating A.D.H.D,' but after the FDA warning that said the companies 'claims are false and misleading in that they are not supported by sufficient scientific studies' the product claims were changed so that it was simply 'a helpful part in controlling ADD/ADHD' and that it was 'not intended for use in the treatment of any disease.'
The State of Texas took recent action against another maker of a treatment for ADHD, the Radiant Health products, including the Herbal Essence tonic, and the Basic Essence and Mineral Essence pills, stating that they made misleading claims in marketing their products.
But just because a company or product hasn't been disciplined by the FDA or FTC doesn't mean that it is effective or safe.
When considering an alternative treatment, do some research before spending your money and giving it to your child. Don't be mislead by ads saying that they are 'proven' or 'doctor recommended.' If they have really been proven to work, find the research study that substantiates, hopefully from a reputable medical journal, the claim and show it to your Pediatician.
You can also search the Better Business Bureau website to see if the company has a bad reputation, although keep in mind that a clear record does not mean that their products are safe or effective. .
Also remember that:
- all natural does not always mean safe
- anyone can put up a website. Just because a company or product has a fancy website doesn't mean that it is not a scam.
- money back guarantee does not always mean that you will get your money back. Before buying the product, call the company and act like you have already bought it and want your money back. Do they help you? Can you even get someone on the phone? If not, you will likely not get your money back if you are not satisfied.
- if the treatment really worked, why wouldn't they do a real research study to prove it?