Do magic tricks work? Learn how to read claims

After the festive season, dieting and exercise are popular. Fast results are wanted and people want to speed up weight loss. Advertisements promise rapid weight loss. Is this true or not?

It is not always possible in practice for the authorities to challenge all the products on the market or the marketing of these products. Sometimes the manufacturer of the product hides behind a post office box, or the enterprise can be based outside Europe.

There is cause to be critical when the results promised by the product sound too good to be true in the advertisement or on the labelling of the product. These types of promises are often given when marketing weight loss products, where easy results are promised in terms of the rate or amount of weight loss, without having to change your lifestyle.

For example: “your weight will decrease by at least 3 kilos during the first 72 hours” or “you will lose weight, even if you eat and exercise as you have before”. Weight changes are most of all affected by your lifestyle, such as diet and exercising habits. That is why a single product on its own cannot affect the rate or the amount of weight loss. Claims to this effect are humbug and are prohibited by law.

Consumers should demand exact information on the composition of the products they purchase, also on products ordered by mail or online.

When ordering products online, always check that the enterprise is real and, for example, openly provides correct contact information. Consumers who feel they have been deceived or become aware of marketing that can be considered to be humbug can report it to the municipal food control authorities or consumer advisors. Contact information for the municipalities can be found on Finnish Food Authority's web site.

Or should one just rely on a proper diet and increased exercise?

Instead of magic tricks, the most sensible way to lose weight is to eat a diverse diet and follow an exercise regime so as to ensure that your energy consumption is higher than your energy intake. In practice you need to both cut back on food and exercise more.

Page last updated 7/5/2019