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Protect Yourself Against Health Fraud

by Jenni J.,

Americans spend billions of dollars each year on products or services that claim everything from "losing weight while you sleep" to "no more arthritic pain." Easy remedies are hard to resist, but many don't always deliver on their promises. Some can be harmful.

Health fraud means promoting, for financial gain, a health remedy that doesn't work -- or hasn't yet been proven to work. Health fraud has grown significantly in the past several decades. Why such growth? People today take more personal responsibility for staying healthy. That interest has launched a huge demand for products and services that promote health.

What are the consequences? Health fraud takes advantage of consumers and carries significant economic and health risks including:

Unsound nutrition advice, products or services won't prevent or cure disease. For the best advice, contact your physician and a dietetics professional such as a registered dietitian.

Proper health care can be delayed if you follow bad advice. You may lose something you can't retrieve -- time for effective treatment.

Even under the best of circumstances, some products and services simply don't work. Why waste your hard-earned money on something that has no effect?

Unsound nutrition advice, products or services can put your health at risk. Large doses of some vitamins and minerals, in the form of dietary supplements, can have harmful side effects. For example, excessive vitamin K is risky if you take blood-thinning drugs. And excessive amounts of vitamin A during pregnancy increase the chances of birth defects.

What can you do? Below are some tips that can help you in identifying health fraud and where you can go for sound nutrition information.

Find out more before you purchase a nutrition product, treatment or service.

It's not easy to distinguish nutrition facts from misinformation. Contact a credible nutrition source such as a dietetics professional.

If you suspect that a statement, product or service is false, discuss it with the appropriate government agency or file a complaint.

The Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration have produced a brochure, "Miracle Health Claims: Add a Dose of Skepticism," to help consumers understand the consequences of and learn how to identify health fraud.

For a copy of the brochure, call 877/382-4357 or write to:
Consumer Response Center
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Room H 130
Washington, D.C. 20580-0001

Source:  ADA

To your health!



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