Misleading Fitness and Health Commercials

Misleading Fitness and Health Commercials

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Some people do not know all that much about exercise and dieting. They do not know healthy ways to eat, and they don’t realize that one can’t get the “Perfect Body” in just a few days. These people are possibly victims of Fitness Myths. “In 2002, the Federal Trade Commission released a report that shared a review of 300 weight-loss ads promoting 218 different products. They found the rampant use of false or misleading claims” (FTC, 2003) Misleading fitness products can be particularly damaging. If one is mislead into purchasing a product and the product doesn’t work as it was advertised, not only have you wasted your money, but also the product may have physically hurt your body. FTC chairman Timothy Muris talks about the advertising and promotion tactics of the fitness industry “ads that make claims and promises that are clearly implausible and patently false run in all forms of media, with the notable exception of network TV” (FTC, 2003). Misleading advertisements are common among all forms of media. Although TV commercials may be more powerful in their persuasion, an obvious reason for this is that TV advertisements show more misleading commercials. A technique frequently used in commercials to make them seem credible is that “many deceptive ads run in highly respected publications and they are perceived to be credible”(FTC, 2003). Therefore if the TV program you are watching, while the commercial is being played, seems credible, consumers tend to believe that the products advertised during the episode are also trustworthy.

One such misleading advertisement was for a product called Skinny Pill for Kids. This diet pill was targeting kids ranging from age 6 to 12. The pill was supposed to help kids lose weight and provide essential daily vitamins, minerals and herbs. “The marketer of the supplement said her company had not done safety tests on children” (CNN, 2002). It turned out that the product being advertised as a “miracle” to help children loose weight contained herbs that are diuretics. “Uva ursi, juniper berry, and buchu leaf all cause the body to lose water. A doctors’ guide to drugs and alternative remedies, states the uva ursi should not be given to children under age 12” (CNN, 2002).

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Uva ursi is not the only harmful ingredient in this Skinny Pill for Kids. A drug called Niacin is also found in the regimen. “Niacin can be toxic to the liver. The National Academy of Sciences sets upper limits for Niacin consumption and, when taken as recommended, the Skinny Pill for Kids contains four times the highest limit of what an 8-year-old child is supposed to consume” (CNN, 2002). Despite all the harmful ingredients in this product the most outrageous thing about the pill is that it doesn’t even help kids lose weight. “Experts also warn that there's no data showing this pill helps children lose weight” (CNN, 2002). This company is advertising this product for one thing only, to make profits. Every positive aspect advertised about the product is completely misleading. Even though the pill has vitamins and minerals it contains dangerous herbs and it isn’t even proven to actually make children lose weight. This is just one of the many scams that are out there.

Diet pills and weight loss programs aren’t the only misleading fitness commercials exercise programs have also mislead there share of consumers. In 2002, The FTC alleged that the marketers of three devices that use electronic muscle stimulation (EMS), had falsely advertised that users would get "six pack" or "washboard" abs without exercise. The marketers sold their devices through heavily aired, 30-minute infomercials on national cable television stations such as USA, TNN, Lifetime, E!, FX, and Comedy Central. “FTC in 2003 issued that infomercials falsely claimed that users could achieve weight loss, fat loss, and inch loss, get well-developed abs, and that use of the belt is an effective equivalent to regular exercise” (FTC, 2003). These companies product did not work so any claim they made in TV promotions were misleading consumers to purchase their products.

A lot of companies may use misleading advertisements for many different products. But consumers must be particularly aware of misleading fitness and health commercials. In this industry faulty products not only waste your money but they can also be harmful to your health.
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