Saturday, September 23, 2023

Here’s what you need to know about diet scams — and how to avoid them

(WYDaily photo/Wikicommons)
(WYDaily photo/Wiki Commons)

The U.S. weight-loss market is worth about $66 billion as of 2017, according to numerous published reports.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that adult obesity was at 39.8 percent and affected about 93.3 million adults in the U.S. in 2015-2016.

Kathlin Gordon, a registered dietitian and nutritionist at Sentara CarePlex Hospital, said most people want easy, fast results when it comes to weight loss.

The diet industry is a money maker, and some in the industry are taking advantage of that by scamming people with their “fad diets,” Gordon said.

Most of these diets — or “scams,” as Gordon calls them — promise a quick, easy fix to weight gain.

This diet market encompasses everything from fit teas to supplements to special diets like the ketogenic diet or the Special K diet, Gordon said.

While there are many fad/scam diets out there, here are some ways you can find out what’s considered a red flag when choosing your diet.

Red flags

Gordon has a bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Nutrition, and she is a certified and registered dietitian and nutritionist.

One big red flag that people should watch out for is a diet telling them to eliminate a whole food group, Gordon said.

Eliminating a food group can strain a dieter’s organs, because the organs may use the eliminated food group to fuel their needs, she said.

The keto diet, for example, eliminates carbohydrates. That poses a danger because the body must then turn to another source to provide energy to muscle tissue and organs like the liver.

“Most times diets that make you give up a whole food group are unsustainable and lead to you regaining the weight,” she said.

Another red flag would be the claim that dieters must buy specific products to lose weight. These diets claim that by drinking their drink or taking their pills or eating their food a person can lose weight easier, Gordon said.

“Most people who are obsessed with dieting have an eating disorder. They are obsessed with body image,” Gordon said.

Instead of a complete diet overhaul, Gordon teaches her patients to use small steps to establish healthy eating habits.

Gordon recommends the following when it comes to healthy eating:

  • Avoiding processed foods and foods from vending machines.
  • Eating at least 25 grams of fiber a day.
  • Listening to a doctor, not diet trends.
  • Eating “real foods.”

Real foods vs. fake foods

A big trap when looking for healthy foods at the store is the idea that sugar-free or fat-free items are better for the body.

Gordon said when a food is sugar- or fat-free, it means the sugar is replaced with artificial sweeteners and the fat is replaced with more sugar.

Gordon recommends looking at the nutrition labels and comparing the fat-free version of an item to the regular version to see how much sugar, fat, calories, etc. are inside each.

In addition to foods, vitamins and supplements are also a concern, Gordon said. While many doctors recommend taking a multivitamin every day, vitamins do not replace food, she said.

“People should be getting their vitamins and minerals from real food sources,” she said.

For a quiz on how to spot a diet scam, click here.  

To find more nutrition information you can visit Sentara Careplex Hospital or call 757-827-2097 or visit this website. 

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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